Mary Jean Coleman, M.S.W.

Senior Director, Southern Division

Mary Jean Coleman joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2006 and oversees the Chapters located in the Southern Division of the United States. As Senior Director, Southern Division, she advocates for AFSP’s mission of saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. Working with the various AFSP chapters, she manages local suicide prevention and survivor support, education, and fundraising efforts. She is also involved in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walks.

Previously, Mary Jean was AFSP National Director of Field Programs, where she was responsible for guiding all AFSP chapters with suicide prevention programming. She also served as AFSP’s Regional Director in Upstate New York, where she expanded AFSP’s reach into Upstate New York by establishing and overseeing five new chapters.

Prior to joining AFSP, Mary Jean served as the Director of a Suicide Crisis Hotline where she managed all aspects of the hotline, including fundraising, legislative initiatives, volunteer training, and answering crisis calls. She was a founding member of the National Council on Suicide Prevention and the New York State Council on Suicide Prevention. She authored the Suicide Survivors section in the New York State Suicide Prevention Plan, and as a consultant for the New York State Office of Mental Health she authored the Suicide Prevention and Outreach and Response Facilitator Manual.

Mary Jean is certified by the American Association of Suicidology as a Certified Crisis Worker. She is a Master Trainer for the internationally recognized ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and safeTALK (Suicide Alertness for Everyone) programs, and is a certified SafeTalk instructor. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the State University of New York at Albany.

Mary Jean has been active in the field of suicide prevention since the 1979 loss of her 17 year-old brother to suicide. She and her family also lost their son to untreated depression in 2016.  He died of a heroin overdose.

“The loss of my son takes me back to 1979 when my brother died by suicide and no one was speaking out loud about suicide loss.  Fast forward nearly 40 years and it seems I am a pioneer again speaking out loud now about the opioid crisis and the correlation between substance abuse and suicide.”

She has received numerous awards for her life’s work in suicide prevention and survivor support efforts.