Boise's Mayor Bieter proclaims Suicide Prevention Week

Boise's Mayor Bieter proclaims Suicide Prevention Week

Anna Silver, KIVI-TV

BOISE, Idaho - Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has proclaimed this week – Sept. 5 through Sept. 11 -- as Suicide Prevention Week.   

Suicide awareness has also been the focus of a collaboration by a task force created by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and the Speedy Foundation. 

As a young student, Jaret "Speedy" Peterson made a tile of artwork proclaiming that someday he would win an olympic medal.

The aerial skier went on become a three-time olympian who won the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Speedy Foundation was formed in 2011, after "Speedy" took his own life. .

The governor’s task force worked with the Speedy Foundation to form the Suicide Prevention Coalition, which successfully lobbied for funding to launch Idaho's Suicide Prevention Hotline. The hotline is now available 24/7 and is expanding into social media.

Boise mayor proclaims suicide prevention week

Boise mayor proclaims suicide prevention week

Shannon Camp, KTVB

BOISE -- Thursday afternoon, state and community leaders gathered outside Boise City Hall to celebrate the collective efforts that are underway to help prevent suicide in Idaho.

“One of the reasons we love living in Boise and in Idaho is people reach out and help each other but they've really done some amazing things,” said Boise Mayor David Bieter.

The event was co-hosted by the City of Boise and The Speedy Foundation, an organization created to raise awareness about mental health after the suicide of Olympic skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson in 2011.

“It just feels wonderful to have your family support you and that's what Boise is, Boise is just a giant family,” said Shannon Decker, executive director of The Speedy Foundation.

In the past five years The Speedy Foundation has helped spearhead the creation of Idaho's first suicide coalition, a group that has lobbied together for more state funding for its collective cause.

What one Boise city councilman says about losing his mother to suicide

What one Boise city councilman says about losing his mother to suicide

By Zach Kyle | Idaho Statesman


In 2011, Boise lost three-time Olympic skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson to suicide. His family launched The Speedy Foundation nonprofit to combat suicide. The executive director of the foundation, Shannon Decker, said at the news conference that each person can contribute by volunteering or donating to a suicide prevention organization, or by reaching out to someone needing help.

“There is hope,” she said. “There is help. There is recovery.”

Idaho’s needed commitment to suicide prevention efforts

Idaho’s needed commitment to suicide prevention efforts

By Shannon Decker & W. Stewart Wilder | Idaho Statesman, Guest Opinion

The Idaho Health Quality Planning Commission and the Idaho Legislature have identified suicide as the No. 1 public health issue facing our state, and over this past legislative session, nearly $1 million was approved to start funding for prevention efforts in the state’s budget. The support was not easy to obtain, but thanks to many individuals and organizations fighting for mental health and suicide prevention, both public and private, the legislation passed and Gov. Butch Otter signed into law. This funding is directed at four key strategies outlined by the commission.

▪  Funding for a state office on suicide prevention. This critical program, under the Department of Health and Welfare, will be tasked to coordinate and implement strategies on suicide prevention in concert with the Idaho Suicide Prevention Plan.

▪  Sustainable funding for the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. This valuable resource to our communities will now have 60 percent of its annual funding needs provided by the state and a wonderful public/private arrangement to generate sustainable funding annually.

▪  School prevention programming. Evidence shows that gatekeeper training, peer mentorship and resiliency programs do work to prevent suicide and other mental and physical health problems in K-12 and university school settings.

▪  Awareness campaigns. Our society has embraced campaigns regarding seat belts, tobacco (Idaho Filter Project), methamphetamine (Idaho Meth Project) and many others over the years, but we have not collectively addressed awareness around mental health and suicide prevention. Funding is in place to begin just such a program, which is a step to significantly chip away at the stigmas associated with mental health and suicide.

As with any medical condition, proper diagnosis is the first step to treatment. These efforts and others under the direction of the state office will have a great impact on how we screen, diagnose and set up treatment for mental health, no differently that we should for cancer, diabetes, heart and other physical ailments for all ages. The human brain is the most complex organ in the body, and we give it the least attention. This is changing and, yes, will take time, energy and funding, but if it saves just one life, it is worth it. The life saved may be your own child, grandchild, family member or neighbor.

New executive director for Speedy Foundation

New executive director for Speedy Foundation

By: IRB Staff, Idaho Business Review

Shannon Decker has been appointed executive director of the Speedy Foundation.

Decker, a co-founder of the foundation, received a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Idaho and has ten years of private and public teaching and administrative experience in Idaho, Nevada and California. She is a mental health first aid facilitator who offers trainings in Idaho and Utah to further the foundation’s mission of promoting mental health education and advocating for suicide prevention.

Peterson was an American World Cup aerial skier and three-time Olympian who was based at Bogus Basin and won the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He died at age 29 in 2011.

The nonprofit Speedy Foundation was founded in 2011 by Peterson’s friends and family to prevent suicide, promote conversations to end stigma, and support mental health education. The Speedy Foundation raises funds for, and collaborates with, other advocacy groups.

Mental health first aid comes to Boise

Mental health first aid comes to Boise

By Shannon Camp, KTVB

In just five short years, The Speedy Foundation, like its namesake, has taken off. Helping to create Idaho's first suicide prevention hotline, and teaching mental health education to hundreds of people in Utah, Idaho and now right here in Speedy's hometown of Boise.

“It’s very much like first aid, it’s very much like CPR,” said Decker. “But you’re more likely to come across someone who is having a mental health crisis than you are to someone who is having a heart attack.”

The foundation has teamed up with FACES, a center for victims of abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Together they are teaching mental health first aid in the Treasure Valley.

“How to help someone when you recognize these signs and how to just be a resource, how to listen, how to reach out for help where to reach out for help,” said Decker.

The goal is to give hope to those who need it, while honoring the man who gave hope to so many.

“I’d like to see no suicides is what I’d like to see,” said FACES COO Jean Fisher. “I think we have a lot of reason to be hopeful. I think we finally have resources to make that happen, to make that a reality.”

“To take that tragedy and our feelings of loss, it’s very easy to transition it into something that is hopeful, into eliminating the pain that we felt and the pain that he felt for anyone else,” said Decker.

The Speedy Foundation and FACES plan to host more mental health first aid courses in Boise and across the state.

Check Your Health: Mental health first aid

Check Your Health: Mental health first aid

By Leslie Tillotson, KUTV2

SALT LAKE CITY -- Knowing CPR or the Heimlich maneuver may save a life, but what if you come in contact with someone suffering a mental or emotional crisis? Would you know what to do? Fortunately, Optum and The Speedy Foundation have teamed up to provide free mental health first aid training.

Major life changes such as a breakup, loss of job, or the death of a loved one can trigger situational depression. Those are times someone might be having some difficulty. So check-in, be straightforward, and if they're struggling, ask tough questions.

"Don't be afraid to ask the real question that you want to know. 'Are you thinking about killing yourself?'" emphasizes Flood.

Groups offer free classes in Utah on ‘first aid’ for mental health issues

Groups offer free classes in Utah on ‘first aid’ for mental health issues

By Danica Lawrence, Fox13

SALT LAKE CITY – Research shows roughly one in four people deal with mental health issues in Utah, and a new class is providing people the "first aid" lessons they need to help loved ones who are suffering.

“These classes provide an amazing bridge to understanding what mental health is, the various levels of it, and how you can start talking to somebody,” said Katie Flood of The Speedy Foundation.

Experts say mental health is a subject that's been scary to talk about in the past but isn't so easy to avoid anymore. Suicide is a major health problem in Utah and a leading cause of preventable death.

How you can be trained to recognize signs of mental health crises and help

How you can be trained to recognize signs of mental health crises and help

By Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As inner-city service missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Don and Julie Stewart's assignment to the Rio Grande Branch near many of the city's homeless services providers carried a steep learning curve.

"We're constantly dealing with mental illness and not knowing how to deal with it, how to handle it, how to recognize it or the right things to do or the wrong things," Don Stewart said.

To help inform and guide their efforts, the Stewarts are enrolled in a Mental Health First Aid class where they are learning to recognize signs of mental health crises and suicide and to develop an action plan to help someone in crisis.

The Stewarts say the training is so valuable, they've enrolled in the eight-hour class for a second time.

"This class was a game changer for us. It was like, 'OK help us understand,' because we were not addressing the mental heath issues. We were, 'Let's get you back to work. Let's get you housed. Let's get you out of the shelter,' and people were just coming right back to the shelter," Julie Stewart said.

The training is provided free of charge in a partnership between The Speedy Foundation, which was formed in honor of three-time Olympian Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, who died by suicide in July 2011, and Optum, which manages Salt Lake County's mental health and substance use services under contract with the county's Division of Behavioral Health Services.

Olympian Emily Cook On Mental Illness And Life Transitions: “Talking Is Key”

Olympian Emily Cook On Mental Illness And Life Transitions: “Talking Is Key”

By Emily Cook, TEAM USA

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and for many of us an opportunity to reflect on and honor those who have struggled. For me, it is a time to remember my teammate and very good friend Jeret “Speedy” Peterson and, in his honor, to look deeply at how we can all support each other.

While a loving, caring, outgoing friend, Jeret battled depression throughout his life. Less than 18 months after winning a silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and retiring from competitive sport, Jeret took his life in July of 2011 at the age of 29. This was a devastating time for his family, teammates and friends, but in the spirit of his passion for giving back to others, The Speedy Foundation was founded and today is focused on understanding mental illness, preventing suicide and fighting stigma through education, research and advocacy.

There are so many positive things that come out of sport: perseverance, dedication and an unwillingness to give up among them. But often times this grit, which has been so engrained, can prove challenging, especially after retiring from sport. As an athlete at the Olympic level it’s easy to define yourself by your sport. When you retire, who are you? The challenges of major transition in life can be tough for all of us, not just athletes.

Speedy Foundation to host seminar

Speedy Foundation to host seminar

Organization to talk about mental health issues in sports

By Adam Spencer, The Park Record

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, The Speedy Foundation and the Park City Sport and Wellness Coalition will host a seminar at Park City High School about recognizing the signs of mental health problems and the stigma of talking about suicide.

The Speedy Foundation, founded in honor of aerialist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson, a three-time Olympian who committed suicide in 2011 at age 29, aims to educate the public about mental health issues and the warning signs of suicide.

Katie Flood, the director of the board and treasurer of The Speedy Foundation, said the nonprofit organization wants to start conversations with the public about how to recognize and help people battling mental health issues in all walks of life.

"Our main mission as a foundation is to hopefully end the stigma of talking about suicide and raise funds to support the suicide hotlines in Utah and Idaho," she said. "We look for opportunities to get more education out there. The more we talk about stuff like depression, the more everyone is aware. The more everybody talks, the more people will listen."

The seminar will feature Sam Walsh, the PCHS guidance counselor, who will talk about a recent "Smile, You are Beautiful" campaign and the impacts it had on the community, as well as Dr. Melinda Roalstad of Think Head First speaking on the importance of concussion education and prevention.

Flood said it's important to understand sports-related concussions and the impact we now know they can have on mental health.

Mental Health First-Aid Training: As Critical for Idaho as CPR

Mental Health First-Aid Training: As Critical for Idaho as CPR

By Jessica Murri, Boise Weekly

While a first-aid class offers instruction on what to do when someone is having a heart attack, The Speedy Foundation and Optum Idaho believe mental first-aid training is just as critical. The organizations came together to offer training sessions that equip students with an action plan on how to recognize and assist someone in a mental health crisis. The 12-hour courses help students learn to identify different types of mental illness like depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and anxiety; and how to assess for risk of self harm or suicide; how to listen non-judgmentally and how to get assistance when needed.

"It helps people to recognize the signs: what people are saying or hinting at," said Georganne Benjamin, the communications director for Optum Idaho, an organization that manages outpatient mental health services for Idahoans enrolled in Medicaid through the Idaho Behavioral Health Plan. "It might not be obvious to most people, but if you've gone through this, you've been trained to see and respond to those types of signs."

The Speedy Foundation, which was founded after three-time Olympic skier and Boise native Jeret "Speedy" Peterson committed suicide in 2011, agreed to help Optum Idaho offer training sessions across the state during the past year. So far, sessions have taken place in Boise, Idaho Falls, Salmon, Weiser, Shoshone, Montpelier, Idaho City and Grangeville. 

"Our goal in launching the program was to really bring it to rural communities, where access to services are not as available as larger cities," Benjamin said. 

Idaho high-school students reported seriously considering suicide. By offering mental first-aid courses, Optum Idaho and The Speedy Foundation hope to curb that.

Armed with a sign, Park City High School student spreads message that has gone viral

Armed with a sign, Park City High School student spreads message that has gone viral

Robbie Borders wants people to know suicide is not the answer

By Bubba Brown, The Park Record

Robbie Borders wants to make your day better.

And it's likely he has if you've happened to drive by him over the past few months. Every day after school, the Park City High School student has been holding a sign on State Road 224 that delivers a hopeful message: "Smile, you are beautiful."

Borders' message soon went viral around the state when his friend posted a picture of him with his sign on social media. Seemingly everyone, he said, was talking about what he was doing. On Monday, he was honored for his efforts during the high school's annual recognition assembly.

"I've been getting a lot of good feedback," he said. "I've had people pulling over and telling me I've been doing a good job and making people's day."

Borders' inspiration for the idea came from a friend who committed suicide. Borders wanted others to know that isn't the only way out. "He had told people to smile, even though he was suffering depression," Borders said of his friend. "So I thought it would be a good idea to put up a sign to show to other people saying that, 'You can smile because you're original, and no one can judge you because of that.'"

Other students quickly took notice. The Summit County Suicide Prevention Coalition had tasked the school's Latinos in Action club with forming a suicide awareness campaign. The club immediately thought of Borders and centered the campaign around his message.

As part of the campaign, students were given dog tags that read "SYAB" as they left the assembly Monday. They were asked to take pictures with the dog tags and something or someone that is special to them and post them to social media with the hashtag "#worthliving."

Mental Health First Aid training available

Mental Health First Aid training available


The Speedy Foundation, an organization dedicated to preventing suicide through education and outreach in the athletic community, is partnering with Optum Idaho to offer free Mental Health First Aid training sessions throughout the state.

Mental Health First Aid is a day-and a-half-course that teaches people how to recognize the most common signs of mental illness including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse, and the steps they can take to help someone get professional help. The Speedy Foundation will fund 10 training sessions during the next year and act as a statewide champion for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. The courses will be taught by certified Mental Health First Aid instructors from Optum Idaho.

The next course will be offered in Sandpoint on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. For more information or to register for a future session, contact Optum Idaho at (208) 914-2013 or

Motorcycle Ride Benefits Idaho Suicide Hotline

Motorcycle Ride Benefits Idaho Suicide Hotline

By Jessica Murri, Boise Public Radio

Idaho is the only state that doesn’t have a suicide hotline. Right now, calls are directed to Oregon. But Judy Gabert, Suicide Prevention Action Network’s Resource Specialist, says that poses problems. The national hotline doesn’t know all the local resources available to Idahoans. This can lead to misinformation on where a person should go to get help.

She says having a local hotline will show that the state cares about the mental health of its residents.

“It will connect every citizen with somebody that can offer help,” Gabert says.

The Center for Disease Control put Idaho fourth in the country for suicides per capita in 2009. The legislature will help the new hotline get off the ground financially.

“It is the first dollar ever the state has put towards suicide prevention,” Gabert said.

Idaho used to have a suicide prevention hotline, but it ran out of money in 2006.

Peterson says she doesn’t know if things would have been different for her son, had there been a hotline in place last year.

“That’s something that none of us will ever know,” Peterson says. “But I’d rather see people not be in my position. It would be wonderful to know that you’re not in that position because your loved one called the hotline and had somebody to talk to.”

Idaho’s own hotline should be up later this year.



A renewed sense of optimism filled the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on May 17, 2012 as AFSP’s Lifesavers Dinner raised close to $450,000 for suicide prevention research, education and advocacy. 

Melissa and over 250 guests were on hand to honor Peter Chiarelli, a retired Army general who has become a powerful voice for suicide prevention; Mariel Hemingway and Natalie Morales, two public figures who helped bring national attention to the problem of suicide while decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness; and Dr. Gustavo Turecki, a researcher who has contributed to the understanding of brain genetics and their association to suicide.

Natalie Morales received the Public Education Award from Linda Peterson, who lost her son, Jeret, who was Natalie’s friend, to suicide. 

The Hurricane Lives On

The Hurricane Lives On


PARK CITY, UT (Feb. 1, 2012) – On the eve of the Visa Freestyle International World Cup, Deer Valley Resort has renamed its unique freestyle aerials tow lift “The Hurricane” in memory of the late Jeret “Speedy” Peterson. The tow is used to shuttle aerials athletes to the top of the jump for the annual International Ski Federation World Cup. The 2010 Olympic silver medalist in freestyle aerials, Peterson won two of his seven World Cups at Deer Valley including setting a world record two-jump score of 268.70 in January of 2007 landing his trademark Hurricane – three flips and five twists.

Deer Valley was the home aerials hill for three-time Olympian Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, a native of Boise, ID. Peterson won seven career World Cups, including back-to-back wins in January, 2007 with a world record two-jump score of 268.70. Peterson was one of the most popular athletes on the World Cup and know for his constant caring for his friends and fellow competitors.

Remembering Jeret, Rallying for Suicide Prevention

Remembering Jeret, Rallying for Suicide Prevention

By Andrew Mentzer, Boise Weekly

Not long ago, one of my more gifted acquaintances met his maker after a tumultuous bout with demons that many of us could never comprehend. Jeret Petersen was much more than a talented skier, and his legacy is quickly becoming something that he probably couldn't have ever fathomed.

Thanks to the efforts of his friends and family, the usually taboo topic of suicide prevention has reached the mainstream in Boise. Petersen's passing has brought an important message out into the open, and the showing for Team Speedy at Saturday's National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1, 3 and 5K walk was the proof in the pudding.

Several hundred people showed up for the walk to bring awareness to the complex and often overlooked topic of mental illness. While there was an excellent showing for Team Speedy, friends and loved ones for countless others came to show their support for NAMI. The walk was lively, upbeat and really came across as a celebration rather than a time of mourning. Check out for more information on NAMI, or to get involved with the Speedy Foundation.