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Ian Prout Forever

A personal campaign sponsored by Ashley McAvey


Thank you for your generous gift in honor of my beautiful brother, Ian Prout.  

All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. Thanks to your generosity, my parents and I have raised almost $72,000 thus far in the various funds for AFSP in Ian's name. 

I join over 250,000 people around the country and walk every year in the Burlington, Vermont Out of the Darkness Walk, one of hundreds of walks in all 50 states that benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (  Together, beginning by simply talking about suicide, it is our mission to end the epidemic that is suicide. 

I didn't walk in 2020 due to the pandemic but we continue to raise funds to benefit the Ian Prout Forever Fund even though I didn't create a separate walk fund in 2020 (and no longer create separate walk funds as all funds to both my past annual walk funds and the Ian Prout Forever all benefit AFSP and all count toward the cumulative we have raised in Ian's name).  I now just have the one Ian Prout Forever in perpetuity fund.

Here is an update from 2021 of what I have been doing to advance mental health awareness and suicide prevention:  

Dear Family and Friends,

June 14th, 2021 was an amazing day in Burlington for the state of Vermont and the entire nation. After years of collaboration and efforts, my one phone call to Gene Richards, Director of Aviation, led to this remarkable gathering of hearts and minds. The exhibit is magnificent, the speakers were incredible including Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Peter Welch, Senator Becca Balint, House Speaker Jill Krowinski, and Mayor Miro Weinberger among many others.  Together we are creating a world without shame and stigma for any illness. 

We are united, we are strong, and I know my beautiful brother Ian is smiling down on these efforts. I am so grateful to each and every one who worked so hard on this project, most of all to Gene Richards and Erin Desautels, and to everyone who attended the event, all of the participants, all of our local partners, McLean Hospital, and every single soul who has experienced any mental health conditions. Above all, I dedicate my efforts to Ian. I was also so blessed to have my Mom and Dad there to see the sliver of light that can come from such darkness in losing Ian. 

Together, we will work to make sure that everyone gets the help they need and deserve

United with gratitude and love,

Below please find the three incredibly well-done TV stories (thank you so much to the Press), Press Release, my remarks, a Seven Days story, LiveStream video from the event, and my aerie blog from a few years back.

The Burlington International Airport is now home to a new exhibit. It’s called the “Deconstructing Stigma” installation.

A Vermont woman is turning her loss into hope at the Burlington International Airport by sharing her own story and lining the walls with others. Our Kayla Martin shows you.

Shelburne News Story:

On April 9, 2016, my only sibling and dearest friend, Ian Prout, ended his life. Everyone who knew Ian was blindsided as he had everything going for him and was loved beyond words.  The pain of the finality cannot be put into words. But something else happened to me. 

Before April 9, I thought suicide was selfish and for “other people”— people with obvious problems that surely their loved ones should have seen.  I thought, “How sad for them," and "Thank God that will never be me.” 

But Ian was the most selfless person in the world. His final act on this planet gave me a clarity and that truth is that his last act was not selfish. It was desperate. Suicide is not selfish. It is desperate. This revelation changed everything for me and is why I am here today.

Getting the conversation started, without stigma, is key. Suicide is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Ninety percent of those who end their lives suffer from a mental health condition.  In Vermont there is a suicide every three days. And language matters—instead of saying ‘commit suicide’, please say 'ended their life' or 'died by suicide’— you commit a crime or sin. We have to take away the blame starting with the language we use.  We are never ashamed of battling cancer, and we can not be ashamed as we battle anything else. 

When I learned about Deconstructing Stigma, I wanted to see one here. Millions of people walk through airports each year and traveling opens one's heart and mind to this kind of life-changing messaging and introspection. When I called Gene about hosting just the second of its kind, there was no hesitation, just a loud and enthusiastic yes. I am deeply proud of BTV and this incredible group of partners. Together, we will usher in a new horizon where mental health awareness is revered.

And to anyone who is suffering, I say emphatically that you are not alone, you are not frail, you are not crazy or broken. You are a human who has needs that have not been met yet.  It is my hope that Deconstructing Stigma gives you hope and guidance and wisdom to all of us as we support you every step of the way.

In closing, I would like to thank Gene by giving him this checkered flag from one of Ian's many race car track wins.  Ian will always be a champion to me and, Gene, you are too. Thank you so much. 


Grand Opening of the
BTV “Deconstructing Stigma” Installation


June 14, 2021 - Burlington International Airport has welcomed McLean Hospital to exhibit the hospital’s award-winning public awareness campaign, Deconstructing Stigma. The installation, which has been developed specifically for BTV, features individuals from Vermont and beyond who have experienced mental health challenges themselves and in their families.

Burlington International Airport has been working to see this project to fruition for over two years with McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, as well as local partners: UVM Medical Center, Howard Center, National Alliance On Mental Health - Vermont, Vermont Suicide Prevention Center, The Center for Health and Learning, Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV), U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants - Vermont, and Connecting Cultures - University of Vermont, in an effort to address the stigma of mental health conditions.

Ashley McAvey helped to spearhead this project with Gene Richards, Director of Aviation at BTV, and asked if he would consider hosting a similar display to the one at Boston’s Logan Airport.

Media Information: Gene Richards Director of Aviation 802-343-9909 grichards@btv .aero

“Millions of people walk through airports each year and traveling opens one's heart and mind to life-changing messaging and introspection. Having lost my beautiful brother Ian to suicide in 2016, I knew the vital importance of this messaging and of removing any and all stigma around all forms of mental health conditions – this project does just that through deeply hopeful and inspiring stories. I am so proud of BTV for putting the conversation of mental health in such a tremendously bright and dominant light and for pulling together such an incredible group of local community partners, Federal and State champions, survivors, and citizens to usher in a new horizon where mental health awareness and getting help when needed are promoted and fostered so that every single person gets the help they need and the healing they deserve” said McAvey.

“Of course, we had no idea when we began that our country would be facing a pandemic on top of an ever-increasing need for more services and support for those suffering with mental health issues. Fast forward to present day, and this is dedicated to bringing awareness through the stories of Vermonters and those living beyond our borders who live with mental illness” said Gene Richards, Director of Aviation.

Media Information: Gene Richards Director of Aviation 802-343-9909 grichards@btv .aero

“Today in part due to the pandemic, more people need support for their mental health. This is a perfect time to redouble our efforts in prevention and education and to ensure that anyone who needs care for their mental health, has a clear path to that help, a path that is free from barriers like stigma.” Said Thato Ratsebe, Associate Director of Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV) and a trustee on the Howard Center Board of Trustees.

“I am incredibly proud the UVM Medical Center is part of a community that recognizes the importance of destigmatizing mental illness. Our organization is committed to working with those that face challenges with mental health and collaborating with the skilled community partners in our region to provide safe, compassionate and high quality care.” said Stephen M. Leffler, MD, President & COO of UVM Medical Center.

“Visibility and acknowledgment are important and powerful tools to help end the stigmatization of mental health challenges. I’m inspired by this installation at the airport that will serve as a reminder that you are not alone and help is available. I will continue to do all I can in Congress to tackle our mental health crisis.” said Congressman Peter Welch.

“Mental health affects everyone, yet statistics show that stigma continues to be the biggest barrier to individuals seeking care.” said Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington. “We hope this art installation, and the stories of these individuals, will encourage others to seek care and to know they are not alone.”

Many thanks to The University of Vermont Medical Center for the generous sponsorship to aid in our efforts!


Media Information: Gene Richards Director of Aviation 802-343-9909 grichards@btv .aero

About BTV “Deconstructing Stigma” Installation:

About Burlington International Airport: Burlington International Airport (BTV) is northern New England’s most convenient and welcoming airport. Located adjacent to Burlington Vermont, BTV is just ten minutes from Lake Champlain. Business and leisure travelers alike appreciate BTV’s friendliness, excellent on-schedule record, and direct flights to: Atlanta (ATL) via Delta, Boston (BOS) via Boutique, Charlotte (CLT) via American Airlines, Chicago (ORD) via United or American Airlines, Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) via American Airlines, Denver (DEN) via Frontier or United, New York City via United, JetBlue, or Delta, Orlando (MCO) via Frontier, Philadelphia (PHL) via American Airlines, Washington DC (IAD) via United and Washington DC (DCA) American Airlines and now Dallas/Fort Worth via American Airlines. Book your getaway today at

About the University of Vermont Medical Center: The University of Vermont Medical Center is a 499-bed tertiary care regional referral center providing advanced care to approximately 1 million residents in Vermont and northern New York. Together with our partners at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, we are Vermont’s academic medical center. The University of Vermont Medical Center also serves as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.

The University of Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high quality academic medicine to every community we serve.

For more information visit or visit our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog sites at

About Howard Center: Howard Center has a long and rich history as a trusted provider in the community. With a legacy spanning more than 150 years, we have been providing progressive, compassionate, high-quality care and supports to those in need. Today, we offer an array of exemplary mental health, substance use, and developmental services across the lifespan. As Vermont’s largest social service organization, our 1,600 staff help more than 16,000 people each year in over 60 locations throughout Vermont in collaboration with hundreds of community partners. Howard Center’s 24/7/365 crisis service, First Call for Chittenden County, is available to meet the needs of Chittenden County children, adults, and families in crisis by calling 802- 488-7777. Help is here. A United Way of Northwest Vermont Funded Agency.

Here please find the  Live   Strea m from Center for Health and Learning Facebook event page. You can also access the coverage and more photos there as well:

This is a clip from our walk in September 2019:

Our third Out of the Darkness Walk was on 9/29/18.  I was very proud of Ian's niece,  my at the time 10 year old daughter Elle, who spoke in front of everyone in attendance and presented this amazing poster 

on the importance of mental health awareness and reaching out with kindness to anyone we meet-- as you never know who is suffering or what someone may be facing on the inside.  

Our second Out of the Darkness walk in September 2017 was beautiful and healing and an interview with one of the two TV stations there covering our efforts is here:

Here is a clip from our first Out of the Darkness walk which took place in Burlington, Vermont on October 2, 2016. I was honored to have been asked to speak at this event and a news clip from that day is here: 

I also wrote this piece for Aerie and am hopeful that mental health awareness and suicide prevention have a huge increased presence in our global society. Please feel free to post/share/spread the word of HOPE: 

I also had the privilege to write an essay entitled, First Person: For Ian that was featured in the Deerfield Magazine. You can read it here beginning on page 96.

This fund, the Ian Prout Forever Memorial Fund, will exist in perpetuity to honor my amazing brother and dearest friend who ended his life on April 9th, 2016.  I am working to celebrate all of the good that Ian stood for, to erase the stigma around suicide, and to bring light to those who are suffering- many of whom are suffering so silently, as was the case with Ian- and to their families.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. AFSP is doing such good work and supporting my efforts in Ian's name means a great deal to all of us.  You are helping us to ensure that Ian's pain was not in vain. Doing all we can to raise awareness about suicide and to provide care for so many in need is a beautiful way to honor Ian today and in the years to come.  Heartfelt thanks for your love and support and for offering hope to those in need. 

We are filled with endless gratitude to God for sharing such an incredible person with us.  I share this sentiment in my eulogy which I invite you to watch here and in this poem I wrote, below, a few days after Ian passed into the other realm.   

United for a gentler future with more understanding and awareness and hope for every person in need. If you would like to reach out to me to learn more about other areas of my suicide awareness efforts or simply to share a story about Ian, please email me at or at 802.598.9428. Thank you, again, and love and light to all.


Near the river,

Through the deep woods,

I feel your soul,

And it is good.


Racing, speeding,

A flash through the air,

I look for your spirit,

And it is there.


A vibrant sun beaming,

A single bird in swift flight,

These bring your smile

In crystal clear sight.


Your beauty, your goodness,

Your kindness beyond measure,

Now for you, dearest friend,

Only peace, only pleasure.


Through billions of years

And infinite stars,

You walked with us together,

How blessed we all are!

Do not have a fear,

Please always know,

Wherever our hearts wander,

You, too, will go.


The love you gave endlessly

We return back to you,

With profound thanks for a soul,

Perfect sky, dazzling blue.


I will walk forward,

I will have no fear.

Our love is eternal.

You are right here.

 -APM for IUP

Dear Family and Friends,

Below is my 5 minute Ignite talk (February 2019).

Thank you all for the love and support.

For Ian. For all in need. For a world where we can say, Goodbye, Suicide.





Spread The Word