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The Longevity Project 2021: The Paradise Paradox

Presented by the Summit Daily News, The Summit Foundation, and Breckenridge Grand Vacations


The Longevity Project: The Paradise Paradox


 
Photo by Jason Connolly/Jason Connolly Photography

Pandemic lessons learned: Longevity Project event speakers talk about mental health

Summit County is an escape for many people, and for good reason. Nestled between the Gore and Tenmile ranges in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, its world-class ski resorts, myriad recreation activities and impeccable scenery make it one of the most visited counties in the state.

A quick glance at the department’s state website indicates Summit’s suicide rate isn’t actually on the upper end of the scale.

In the past 10 years, 85 individuals have died by suicide in Summit County.

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Photo by Jeffrey Wilson/For the Summit Daily News

Party town: How an alcohol-centered culture is impacting the community’s mental health

Jordan Cain was a teenager when he began drinking.

It started innocuous enough for the Longmont native, as is the case with many young people experimenting with alcohol in their high school years. But things didn’t stay that way.

He developed an alcohol use disorder, and soon he was drinking just to stop himself from going into withdrawal. At some point, he began using cocaine to stay awake. For 12 years, people in his life tried to talk to him about his addiction, but he would brush off their remarks.

“I was drinking very heavily. And I think for my generation, or at least the people I was hanging out with, it was just a normal amount,” Cain said. “… I did drop out of college.

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Photo: Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

Crime or crises? Police see early success with measured response to mental health emergencies

It can be easy to have a poor perception of law enforcement.

Every day, police officers are tasked with responding to complicated calls related to individuals in the midst of mental health crises, and community members are inundated with horror stories in the news and on social media of those interactions going wrong.

We have stories like that in Summit County, too.

When it comes to the intersection between law enforcement and mental health, few have a better understanding of what’s at stake than Breckenridge resident Travis Bickford. His wife, Jacqueline, was arrested in April 2016 on charges of child neglect. He said she was suffering from a severe bout of postpartum depression, and he’d taken her in for mental health evaluations several times in the final months of her life.

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Photo by Kathryn Scott/For the Summit Daily News

Finding Help: Mental health services struggle to meet growing demand in rural Colorado

The first time Anna Vaine was diagnosed with a mental health condition, she was 8 years old. The Summit High School graduate learned she had generalized anxiety disorder. Since then, the now 19-year-old has been diagnosed with chronic depression, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

After her first diagnosis, Vaine visited a therapist in Summit County but stopped shortly thereafter.

“I stopped going not because I didn’t need it but because the therapist I went to and the things I was doing weren’t serving me in the way I would have liked,” Vaine said. “I stopped going for a while, and then I started looking for services again when I was 15.

That’s when I started noticing a lot of the struggles that people have mentioned with getting care in Summit.”

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Photo from Kevin Hines/Courtesy photo

Survivor calls suicide attempt ‘the greatest mistake of my life’

“I jumped.”

“It was the single worst action of my entire life,” Kevin Hines said. “The millisecond my hands left the rail, I had an instantaneous regret for my actions. It’s 100% recognition that I had just made the greatest mistake of my life, and it was too late.”

Hines is one of fewer than 40 people who have survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and one of fewer than 10 who have regained full mobility. Since his suicide attempt in 2000, Hines has built a career on sharing his story in the hope that others struggling with mental health issues find solace in the fact that they aren’t alone and that help awaits them.

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