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. pam

    meth addiction is a terrible disease

    July 27, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mr SandyK

    ICUnurse my wife was also a nurse, many times there would be cases such as you described. the damage is always done to the ones still living. putting pride/ego aside and getting help is an easy thing to say, but not so easy to do sometimes

    July 27, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. evil me

    It's selfish when the family and friends have to live on, not really knowing why the person did what he did.
    It's the ultimate selfish thing to do.
    For the people left behind, the wondering why is often as hard to take as the suicide itself.
    Every person a suicide leaves behind is *exactly* like the driver of the train...the trauma is just as valid.
    It's selfish as hell.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      "Evil you", indeed. If the people left behind can't forgive someone who is tortured to the point of suicide, then they deserve the hurt.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tony M

    "Shot himself to death" does that phrase sound weird to anyone else? Would you say "He hung himself...to death" ? Just sounds weird.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
    • vegan

      I agree, I don't know why they don't just say "committed suicide" . Either way it's sad.......

      July 27, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mia

    Seriously? You use an article about a young man's tragic suicide to solicit money?

    July 27, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. carol

    a person who commits suicide is at a point in life where he/she feels no one can help them. They are in such a state of depression that they find the only course they can take to ease the pain is death. One thing strange about this story is he made a 911 call. Usually, this is for attention and more so than not, the person is half heartedly wanting to die. The details of his death are still unknown except we know he shot himself. I wonder where he shot himself and if perhaps he thought it wouldn't be fatal.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      Interesting point. Indeed, The suicide literature discusses cases where suicide attempts that were apparently actually meant as cries for help turned out to be inadvertently "successful". In any one case, you'll never know 100%. But there have been enough cases where all the signs point to "cry for help" rather than "final resolve" that at least SOME of them almost surely fall into the category of "accidentally successful" suicide. I would also point out, however, that it isn't EASY to buck all survival instinct and so-called "half hearted" attempts need not actually be "half hearted" at all, but rather a matter of powerfully CONFLICTING urges. That is, the desire to die is genuine and strong, but "shares a mind" with the basic, organic desire to live and/or some sort of fear of death and the result is a stalemate. Reason to suspect this is that more than a few people made what looked like half hearted attempts before successfully committing suicide by way of an utterly non-half-hearted method like a shotgun to the face or a bridge jump when one side of this conflict ultimately prevails.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. JFR

    I have experienced depression (exacerbated by exhaustion from long untreated sleep disorders) to the point of being suicidal. So when my wife attempted suicide while in the throes of depression, I was upset and even angry at the way she had spurned some forms of help, but the LAST thing I would say is that she was "selfish". She was LOST. She simply didn't TRUST the help offered, tried to find her own way and failed to find a solution. When my aunt committed suicide during a losing bout with cancer when the "treatment" held out little hope and caused symptoms worse than the disease, I was devastated that such a wonderful person experienced such misery at the end that she felt she had to hit her own "off" switch. But call this always kind and generous person "selfish" because her death was upsetting? My god, what sort of cad would do that? People in this forum who presume to stand in high and mighty judgment of suicide victims are shallow people indeed.

    July 27, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
    • JW

      Very well said. Thank you.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Tony Beaver

      1 John 4:18

      July 27, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • JFR

      @Tony I don't see the relevance of that verse and am almost afraid to ask what relevance YOU see.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mr SandyK

    John Richardson you are so right! I so disagree with playing the victim for years on end. there is one reason and one reason only for that and it sadly is the attention recieved. this country is full of people who have played that game for way too long. My wife is no longer with our family and the young men who took her are saying that they have adhd or whatever and did not have money to buy their medication which drove them to do what they did. it is infuriating to listen to them

    July 27, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • John Richardson

      OH, my condolences, MrSandyK. That is terrible.

      July 27, 2011 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      @ Mr Sandy Awww I'm sooo glad to see ya.. HUGE (hug) to ya big guy. It is always so sad to find out the criminals reasoning for taking another life. I did find a post of your wife's where she called you her "beloved" mmmm, (crying) breaks my heart cause love like that is so very rear. I myself found some one that I can not seem to shake. please know that the regulars are and will always be here for you. God bless you my friend. 🙂

      July 27, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • my condolences

      it is very sad to hear of your loss but..... to paint with such a broad brush as 'adhd or whatever' does a serious disservice to those that deal with adhd on a daily basis. if it is adhd, that is absolutely no excuse for what happened and was not the cause of their behavior. medication or not. but, if it was 'whatever' then it shouldn't placed in the same category as adhd. the 'whatever' could be schizophrenia, dissociative disorder, etc. as a person with adhd, i would never dream of harming another person. again, i'm sad to hear of your loss. my condolences to you and your family.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
    • eriesnow44145

      I am so sorry about your loss. What you hasve experienced is a tragedy. I have NO symphathy for anyone who takes another's life.

      I have been on the other end of the Suicidal picture having been there in my deepest pitt and feeling lost and alone. I would however NEVER harm another human being or animal for that matter. I have gotten much more strength to carry on in this world. Just others dont judge a suicidual person as selfish, I am the least selfish person you would ever meet. I was just lost and felt in total dispare and felt nothing or no one could help or comfort me. Thankfully I think i've overcame this dispair...Blessings everyone.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. BlackDynamite

    If winning an Olympic silver medal can't keep you going for more than 18 months......

    July 27, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mr SandyK

    John richardson Thank you. but there are people wandering this world lost and hopeless, I was loved. it is sad that people get their 15 mins of fame off of other peoples tragedy. suicide or should not be profited from by anyone in anyway. who knows what is in a persons mind when they have gotten to that point. as I said in my original post, there is always the next minute to turn things around

    July 27, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    In seriously poor taste.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jason Bowdle

    I'm so so sorry it came to this Speedy! We all love you so much! This Is a very sad day for everyone!


    July 27, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. dave

    sad. so young....so speedy.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Shonnie

    It sucks when anyone talented or not cant see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope you fly free.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. NMGrrL

    This is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to those who loved him and survive him. It is so sad that he felt this was his only choice in the face of his life problems, or the only way to heal his pain. I am sure there are many who will miss him.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
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