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  1. #1
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    Rocky Mountain Suicide Belt

    Interesting article about the much higher rates of suicides in ski towns.

    Why Are Ski Towns Seeing More Suicides? - National Geographic https://apple.news/ACc6ujN_JSxqDfqixAokrtw

    I've never lived in a ski town so reading this is an eye opener.

  2. #2
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    Didn't read the link, but I am guessing once the sparkle of living in a ski town wears off and they realize they are just a poor ski bum with roommates and life has passed them by, well depression takes em out.
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  3. #3
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    Good comment section. Read them.

    Thanks for the link. Now bookmarked and will be used to show people when they ask me, hey, why aren't you living up there? Not suicidal, but, can definitely relate. One simple factor that wasn't talked about much - the fact that the ratio of men to women in these cultures are at least 10-1, and probably 100-1 for those over 45. That doesn't make men happy. Especially when they're essentially dirt poor, and looking at a 30,000 dollar knee procedure at a late age.

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  4. #4
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    We all know (or at least know of) one of the commenters. He's pretty much on point too. When you made your move to escape and it doesn't work out, what then? The suicide situation is probably similar at a lot of end-of-the-road places where people go to "escape".

  5. #5
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    Our local paper, JH News and Guide, did a special report on this about five years ago- right down to mapping where the deaths occur. Very sad.

    We had another high profile suicide this past fall or early Winter. It is definitely something Jackson needs to keep an eye on.
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  6. #6
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    I was well on my way to being one of those people in the article. I was fortunate enough to realize that I wasn't going to make a living skiing, and that drinking all day long and working nights in restaurants wasn't all that sustainable.

    I was definitely a classic "misunderstood" drunk who wanted to run farther away from reality and deeper into the mountains.

    It's easy to justify your demons when the sun is always shining and you are skiing blower most of the year.

  7. #7
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    aside from demowoman and possibly hardcore i havn't really seen this and i'd venture to say the majority of ut suicides are within the lds faithful
    i have seen it more as a couple of fishing guides ive worked with have subcumb to inner demons but dutch john and slc are drastically different places
    interesting article

    https://mic.com/articles/104096/ther...why#.4lHP6xqzP
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
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  8. #8
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    Happy to say I can't relate to that article even a little bit. Maybe that's the dopamine talking... But that being said, I don't know how a lot of people around here do it. People like telling themselves that money doesn't buy happiness, and at some level that's true... But most of us are not destined to be spiritually enlightened yogis, sitting cross-legged on a mountain side, harmonizing with the natural rhythms of the universe. If you weren't happy scraping by, struggling to pay the rent, waiting tables and stocking shelves in what ever town you're from, reducing your employment opportunities and increasing your expenses, while simultaneously multiplying the number of things you'd rather be doing instead of working, is an illogical strategy for developing peace of mind. Not surprising that many people find it deeply unsatisfying, especially when it all unfolds in spite of their expectations.
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  9. #9
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    interesting article.

    i honestly believe the mountains saved my life. my late teens and early 20s were a dark time fueled by drugs and alcohol, and if it weren't for skiing, in particular backcountry skiing, I don't know where I would be today but I was certainly headed down a dark path. i worked in steamboat, colorado this winter and at an orientation the high suicide rates in routt county and the area surrounding steamboat were discussed. I was shocked. I know people struggle, but I had no idea they struggled so much greater in ski towns. I don't understand the cause other than financial struggles that come with living in a ski town and how much these financial burdens have grown over the last 20 years or so. I know plenty of ski bums that were able to buy homes in the towns they lived back in the day, now, not a chance. I don't know if this is the cause or the fact that these areas see a lot of alcoholism??? who knows? All, i know is having a purpose like suffering up a mountain for hours to go skiing for a few minutes seems to keep me happy and not boozing super hard. certainly, its a weird phenomenon that needs further exploration and I am glad Nat Geo and other publications are bringing this dark subject to the light.

  10. #10
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    highest rate of suicide in America takes place at less than 100 ft elevation. the Rocky Mountain thing is probably more people past their prime and a small sample group.
    off your knees Louie

  11. #11
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    I think that the whole point is that the ski town isn't the paradise some imagine. Nobody moves to Detroit expecting a nirvana.

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  12. #12
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    Good article, thanks for sharing. Waiting patiently for Ernest Hemingway to jump in.

    After having an immediate family member take their life this winter, I would say this. One, suicide never is logical. Sure, someone could have no money, no wife, no kid, altitude fueled depression etc. in some mountain town, but that doesn't necessarily drive them to suicide. There are a ton of forever unknown factors that could have led them to that conclusion. You'll never know what they were thinking, that's part of that guilt family and friends feel afterwards. Second, it is going to be very challenging for someone who knows the person in question to connect the dots that suicide is being considered, unless that person specifically spells it out. There are warning signs that exist, but not many of us do not know how to identify them and how to respond.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    Good comment section. Read them.

    Thanks for the link. Now bookmarked and will be used to show people when they ask me, hey, why aren't you living up there? Not suicidal, but, can definitely relate. One simple factor that wasn't talked about much - the fact that the ratio of men to women in these cultures are at least 10-1, and probably 100-1 for those over 45. That doesn't make men happy. Especially when they're essentially dirt poor, and looking at a 30,000 dollar knee procedure at a late age.
    Sounds like you got out just in the nick of time.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PNWbrit View Post
    Sounds like you got out just in the nick of time.
    No doubt you'd be one of the self appointed members of the cool clique, hanging at the end of the bar, throwing pithy little bon mots at the uncool people at the other end who just didn't meet your standards.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    Good comment section. Read them.

    Thanks for the link. Now bookmarked and will be used to show people when they ask me, hey, why aren't you living up there? Not suicidal, but, can definitely relate. One simple factor that wasn't talked about much - the fact that the ratio of men to women in these cultures are at least 10-1, and probably 100-1 for those over 45. That doesn't make men happy. Especially when they're essentially dirt poor, and looking at a 30,000 dollar knee procedure at a late age.
    This is why I only lasted 2 years in a mountain town.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    One simple factor that wasn't talked about much - the fact that the ratio of men to women in these cultures are at least 10-1, and probably 100-1 for those over 45.
    apparently it's getting better...
    But seriously it's nowhere near 10-1. Try 3-2 in a worst case scenario.
    Vail - 140men-100women
    Aspen - 117men-100 women
    Jackson - 54%male-46% women

    and as someone well over 45 doing better in that arena than i have the rest of my life i must respectfully disagree
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteroom_Guardian View Post
    It's easy to justify your demons when the sun is always shining and you are skiing blower most of the year.
    I think this is very true. Especially since most suicides are in spring. All winter you have focus, drive, and life fulfilling stoked out energy. The season ends, life's b.s. drifts back in. Obviously its much more complicated than that but I think it's Laird Hamilton in one of those surf movies.. riding giants? Where he is talking about dealing with long stretches of no surf and how it affects you. To paraphrase " we are Dragon slayers, what do we do when there are no dragons to slay?

  18. #18
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    I don't pretend to know all the reasons--I suspect they're highly variable. For example--the article talks about a 57 year old ski bum, but Truckee's suicides referred to in the article were mostly teens. One statistical factor is fairly obvious--the high male/female ration, in addition to making it harder to find a long-term partner for men, increases the overall suicide rate since men commit suicide 2-3 times more often then women. One thing I've observed as I've grown older is that women tend to keep making friends and spending time with their friends well into old age, while men become increasingly isolated. In a ski town this seems to be even more true, as some men grow tired of the ski bum life and leave for the valley the men who stay have fewer and fewer friends left. Another factor--when you decide to build a life around skiing you've made a choice to prioritiize a physically demanding sport with a high frequency of injury over family and career; when the body fails, what's left?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdork View Post
    apparently it's getting better...
    But seriously it's nowhere near 10-1. Try 3-2 in a worst case scenario.
    Vail - 140men-100women
    Aspen - 117men-100 women
    Jackson - 54%male-46% women

    and as someone well over 45 doing better in that arena than i have the rest of my life i must respectfully disagree
    No way. I mean the numbers. And I'm not pulling numbers out of my butt. Surveys have been done over the years, and 10-1 is a good round number. Vermont is worse. Just from my observation, the only good quantity I see are Moms on the weekend. You know, women, not little girls.
    Congratulations on your sex life, though.

    Let's do some livin'
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  20. #20
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    10-1 is the most bullshit thing I've ever heard.

    If you're looking for an actual partner and not just a female equivalent of a bro, than surely a ski town is not your best bet. But you're fooling yourself if you don't think they're around, maybe you would have seen them more if you weren't holed up in your condo the entire time you were out west.

  21. #21
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    One of the guys in the article was my former neighbor in Ophir. A really good dude and I've thought about all this a lot lately.

    From my 13 years there I remember some dark times when it felt like there was no one to turn to even though I knew 50% of the tiny population. But I guess if that dark place comes and stays, you forget that it's okay to ask for help. Seems like the history with suicides in Telluride is some known depression issues but never properly handled by the individual and/or the friends and family members were afraid to speak up, until something snaps (total observation).

    I've seen a lot of people, mostly guys for sure, burn out in that lifestyle. How they handle it before they get to that point seems to make a little difference (staying or leaving..committing to something more "real" within the town). No matter who it is that dies in a small town, everyone feels the pain. Cancer, avalanche deaths and suicide have taken a lot of people in Telluride (since early 90s in my case) and that alone messes with you sometimes.



    I miss all the perks of the ski town lifestyle for sure but I seem to be more balanced out of the mix. I had two expensive habits, horses and skiing (not hookers and blow) and that was hard to manage as well.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghosthop View Post

    If you're looking for an actual partner and not just a female equivalent of a bro

    I'm not starting a business or trying to find a bro with tits. Bro.

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  23. #23
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    It was profoundly difficult when I couldn't do wildland fire work any longer and, thus, couldn't maintain a standard of living I considered minimum and keep skiing 100 day seasons in the mountains. It was heartbreaking to lose my house in Salt Lake...I had one last try at living in Taos...and that was a shit show. I did indeed stand on the edge of the gorge bridge in Taos...I have a friend in the fire dept there who would have had to deal with my body, and that bothered me too much to jump.

    The thing is, you know you can fall back and struggle away from skiing...but it sucks. After 7 or 8 years of struggling, college, driving trucks, living in Illinois and Michigan...there's times when I see everyone's ski pictures in March at Snowbird and it's just agonizing. I knew it would be like this, and I didn't want to live like this, but I just kind of did it anyway....but it was just barely, there were so many times I just couldn't muster the courage to kill myself. I live in Michigan. I'm a fat, old, washed-up ski bum in Michigan. There are plenty of times when I look at my idiot coworkers in my menial job, or everyone thinks I'm weird because I'm not super excited about skiing 400 ft. of flat hardpack, or I see the flat horizon, or I have to have a conversation with some midwestern business douche who clearly thinks I'm a huge loser...plenty of those times when I think "this is what I was trying to avoid". I resent skiing, if I had kids I wouldn't want them to ski...between the concussions and the knee and back problems, and the transience, and the nebulous nature of the whole pro scene. The whole sport sets you up to fail unless you're sitting on a trust fund. Oh well, fuck it, I got caught up in skiing and this is how that all works out. I still have zero dollars and zero cents for retirement.

    I think that's why there are so many ski town suicides, it's hard to make it all work, it's tenuous. Then how are you going to go back to the real world and be a huge loser...I think lots of people see that writing on the wall and would rather do a quick painless death than some prolonged, humiliating exercise in running out the clock on a game already lost.

    And regular life after skiing isn't that bad, there is light at the end of the tunnel, it's there, but it's pretty hard to see it all working out when you start to see your ski-town life coming apart, I barely made it.

  24. #24
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    I've had four friends kill themselves in the past year or two. Two I knew from the community, two I worked with, one of my coworkers rode the truck with me for a long time and was somewhat close. My stepdaughter took her own life about 6 years ago. My son struggles greatly and has been hospitalized twice in the past year. To say this article hits close to home is an understatement. None of these people fit any reasons that have been mentioned here.

    I've invested a lot of time and thought into "why," far more than is healthy I'm sure, and there just isn't an answer.

  25. #25
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    I wonder how many older serious skiers have had multiple concussions--not necessarily with loss of consciousness--and have chronic TBI. I have a cousin pushing 70 who's been forbidden to ski for 20 years after having multiple concussions skiing and bike riding, and wasn't even a serious skier.

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