July 26th, 2011
10:39 PM ET

U.S. skier Jeret Peterson shot himself to death, police say

Aerial skier and Olympic silver medalist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a spokesman for the Utah Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said.

Police responded to a 911 call Monday night from Peterson, who said he was going to commit suicide and gave them his location in Lambs Canyon, Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

He was already dead by the time officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. ET, Hoyal said.

"This is a sad day for Boise and for all of us who admired Speedy Peterson's accomplishments, both on the slopes and in his life," said, Boise Mayor Mayor David H. Bieter, who presented Peterson with the Key to the City last year after he medaled in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"The hundreds of kids who came to City Hall to shake Speedy's hand after he medaled in Vancouver last year are a living testament to his power to inspire and motivate. It is truly tragic that, in the end, there was one hill he wasn't able to conquer. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Peterson won a silver medal in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games for freestyle skiing after pulling off his signature move, the Hurricane.

Peterson picked up the nickname "Speedy" at a summer ski camp in Lake Placid, New York, in the mid-1990s because coaches thought he resembled the cartoon character "Speed Racer" with a big helmet, according to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association website. He won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship and took bronze at two straight World Junior Championships in 2000 and 2001.

His life was not without tragedy. He reportedly considered suicide after losing $550,000 in blackjack earnings, according to The New York Times. His half-sister died in a drunken driving accident when he was 5. A friend committed suicide at his house, in front of him.

"The personal challenges Speedy has battled are familiar to all of us, and on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to offer my sympathy to Speedy's family and friends. Today is a sad day," U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

"I know Speedy's friends and family were incredibly proud of his effort in Vancouver, and his achievements were an inspiration to people all over the world."

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Filed under: Sports • Utah
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. LOW LYF

    SINCE HE CONFESSED TO HIS OWN MURDER DOES THAT MEAN HE GOES TO PRISON NOW

    July 27, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. RE: ATHEISTS DO NOT SUICIDE

    Just Because YOU Are An Atheist And Have Not Suicided Means Nothing. We Are Not Even Discussing Jeret's Beliefs At This Time. But Anyways Your ' Facts ' Were Incorrect Anyways. According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry religious affiliation is associated with significantly lower levels of suicide compared to religiously unaffiliated people, atheists and agnostics.

    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found. Full article online: http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/...ct/161/12/2303

    July 27, 2011 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. Brandon

    Life isn't for everyone.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. sapsxy

    Mental health diseases' are very worst part of human existence.Many famous and ordinary folks who struggle with it, in one form or another,often reach very edges of that ultimate decision,those who are able to defeat it ,live,those that dont,take the suicide route.That female singer that recently overdosed had the same problem of not being able to defeat her personal internal battle against this disease.And unfortunately,same happened with this person.
    Its why centuries ago,mediation was discovered to be the ultimate solution for being "in control of your mind".

    July 27, 2011 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. paco

    good. anyone that wants to die certainly should be able to.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. David

    Hey, will you guys visit HelpFaye.ORG a friend of mine is fighting for her life.... Thanks

    July 27, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. unowhoitsme

    How rude...a man KILLED himself, because he couldn't live with the WAR inside his head from tragic life experiences, and all you people can say are rude comments. Where's your compassion and integrity? We live in a "cold hearted" country.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Campbell

    "Peterson’s life, short version: He won $550,000 playing blackjack, went bankrupt, considered suicide and kicked alcoholism." – NYT

    An editor at CNN needs to correct the above article to reflect the correct quote.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. bezerkur

    you know im sorry for his family and the skiing world but i just think its the biggest cowardly act one can do. its so selfish and cruel to do that to your family. if its that bad check yourself in. life is a gift and there is outlets to deal with whatever is wrong. things seem to work out eventually, never give up. you may save a life.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
    • cindy

      I agree with you on that.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • john percer

      this poor guy has been going downhill for years,,,,,,

      July 27, 2011 at 6:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Shane

      What if you have no family?

      July 27, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      You are a cruel, shallow person who obviously doesn't understand how depression feels or how it messes with your ability to come up with rational responses.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Sabina

      First you say you are sorry for his family, then you accuse Speedy of being cowardly, selfish, & cruel. Don't you realize who is being cruel and selfish here? It's you! Show some empathy and respect instead of your judgemental hatred towards those who are ill. And most of all? Educate yourself. Your comments are born of ignorance.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
    • k0rrupt

      I agree with bezerkur 100%. Committing suicide and leaving your family and friends behind is incredibly selfish. There are always better ways to deal with your problems than killing yourself. Three of my best friends killed themselves by the time they were 20, and I know personally, how that affected their family members and friends. If you are suicidal then deal with it, rather than being so pathetic and self-absorbed that you have to make everyone around you deeply suffer for years to come. Grow a pair and get some help – professionally and/or from your family and friends that are surrounding you. Try thinking about someone besides yourself for a change. Also keep in mind, there is always someone that has it worse than you. There are people that live with horribly challenging disabilities (blindness, etc...)every day for their entire life, yet they wake up every day and make the best with what they've got. They don't off themselves and leave everyone behind in their wake. To anyone that's contemplating suicide – try thinking about how your loved ones will feel when they find you dead... and also try thinking about how any seemingly impossible problem always lessens over time. Life is about challenges and overcoming them – not about giving up.

      bezerkur

      you know im sorry for his family and the skiing world but i just think its the biggest cowardly act one can do. its so selfish and cruel to do that to your family. if its that bad check yourself in. life is a gift and there is outlets to deal with whatever is wrong. things seem to work out eventually, never give up. you may save a life.

      July 27, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      John Richardson knows whats up.

      Just because you have a clear head (or so it seems) does not mean that all of us are as lucky as you are.

      Get inside the mind of someone who has depression, than talk.

      Until then, when you are actually informed of the topic, you can just go take a hike.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      Fortunately, the professionals in the field of depression and suicide prevention aren't anywhere near as callous and judgmental as some of the posters around here.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • MSB

      Have you ever suffered from a mental illness? If not, you need to shut up. It's not that cut and dry.

      July 27, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • DB

      People have their limits, they can't take it anymore. I am an EMT and have gone on many suicide calls, I feel bad for the person and their family. It isn't cowardly, that isn't that they are thinking. They think of defeat. This guy thought ahead enough that he let police know where he was, so they could be prepared for what they would see, not leaving himself for a person to find that had no training in this or leave his family wondering where he was and what happened...that in itself was a kindness. Don't judge another persons limitations. Also, being famous the media would eat it up if he checked into a mental health facility. You don't know he may have been going to a therapist. Perhaps for a long time.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      kOrrupt, maybe you should have been a better friend to the friends you had that committed suicide. I would imagine a friend like you who judges and tells them to "grow a pair" would be enough to send anyone that was depressed over the edge. Too bad Compassion is not something you can buy, because you obviously never had it to begin with.
      Selfish – you are....to only think of what suicides did to you not what drove them to it.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      do you know what i love about suicide, is how much it hurts you all to the point where you will do anything you can to stop the person. like right now how you try to make it look like the worst thing possible. but in the end these people who you call selfish are no more than you. i hate this argument, because i dont like being alive but i have to hear from all of you people how im just weak selfish and all that jazz, the only reason someone wants you around and alive is for their own selfish reasons, even if it just as simple as the pleasure of said named company. i dont know why you think that because you overcame it or never went though it means there is always a way, but theres not, sometimes people just struck out before they even had a chance to decide if they wanted to play the game. but thats where i hold the cards in showing you how i feel eveyday with my death, the pain you feel is what i feel everyday all day, and no you cant always just go see some Dr. to cure you, people just have to accept that not every person can be cured just as every person living cannot be phisically in two places at once.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. shan22044

    There are like almost 20K people who commit suicide each year in the U.S.
    Twenty thousand people!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2011 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • bumcheek7

      And let'snot forget all of those returning soldiers! The statistics say that the number of veterans who commit suicide from the Iraq and Afghan wars (?) exceeds that of all of the past wars COMBINED.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. will

    Try not to judge the man till u have walked a mile in his shoes.my prayers to him & his family.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. smooth

    Another GREAT sports figure for the kids to admire....

    July 27, 2011 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. MAZEN

    Quraan declares: Alchohol and Gambling are two sevre prctice from the action of Satan.
    If this guy was a muslim, he would enjoy his life and hereafter. I feel sorry for him, nobody told him about Islam.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Uriah

      Too bad Islam is a lie another tool of satan.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. evil me

    @Judgemental:
    I said FACE HIS PROBLEMS WITH determination, dignity, and self respect.
    The same determination it took him to end his life could have been used to face his problems head-on.

    John Richardson:
    Who the hell said that families didn't forgive?
    They deserve to hurt the rest of their life?
    We forgive, you idiot.
    We can't forget.
    That's the problem.
    As one poster said, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
    You know nothing.
    Nothing.

    As for the person who said I was trying to be profound: nothing is further from the truth.
    The person who perseveres through the hardest challenges that life throws at you is courageous.
    The person who takes the easy way out isn't brave. They're selfish. Period.
    Suicide is a singularly selfish act, and it has far-reaching consequences on the people left behind.
    To think anything less is disingenuous.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      @evil me: I didn't say anything about HIS family, oh illiterate one. I was talking about anyone who followed your creepy prescription to heap scorn on someone who has already suffered terribly. And if you knew anything about the recalcitrance of chronic depression or any of the many other illnesses and syndromes that have led people to suicide, you wouldn't endorse the childishly simplistic line that suicide is a permanent solution to a TEMPORARY problem. In some cases, that may be true. In many cases, it is not. And even when it IS true, thinking that you can just scold a depressed mind into believing it is cruel and stupid.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Sabina

      The last line in your abusive & jugemental post towards victims of suicide is "To think anything less is disingenuous".
      Are you an expert here? If so, where did you get your PhD?
      Are you that arrogant to think you are an authority and any other way of thinking is not acceptable? Would you feel this way if one of your loved ones committed suicide?
      Unbelieveable HUBRIS.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. mardi gras

    Oh, then by all means, off yourself.
    What kind of question is that?

    July 27, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
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