Basalt household begins memorial fund with AspenOUT to assist LGBTQ+ youth fighting psychological sickness

Basalt household begins memorial fund with AspenOUT to assist LGBTQ+ youth fighting psychological sickness
Basalt household begins memorial fund with AspenOUT to assist LGBTQ+ youth fighting psychological sickness
Household and associates launched balloons at a celebration of life service for Jack Raife, who died by suicide on April 2.
Josie Taris/The Aspen Instances

On April 2, Jack Raife of Aspen died by suicide. He was 18 years previous.

He’s remembered by his household as somebody who went about life with an unapologetic sparkle. He was born in Aspen and raised by two loving dad and mom in Basalt. His sister, Makena, 21, described him as her finest good friend.

On Saturday, Jack’s household held a memorial service honoring his life and their love for him. Household and associates gathered at Aspen Glen to rejoice his life, releasing (biodegradable) balloons in his honor after a service celebrating his life.



Kathy Potter, Jack’s mom, is devoted to turning her ache into energy by beginning the Jack Raife Memorial Fund in partnership with AspenOUT. The memorial fund will present scholarships to queer youth in want of long-term mental-health assets. Jack got here out as homosexual when he was in seventh grade. As of Saturday night, the fund had raised greater than $40,000.

“We’re going to show our collective ache into energy. And that’s what Jack would need. Flip our ache in to energy. That has turn into my private mission for not simply Makena and me, however for all of us on this horrible loss,” Potter mentioned to the group gathered to recollect her son.



Buddies and family members shared reminiscences of Jack throughout the service. And between audio system, everybody bopped alongside to Mariah Carey’s vacation hit “All I Need for Christmas is You” — one in every of Jack’s all-time favourite songs.

He was a gifted pianist and would carry out with Makena of their front room – and even as soon as at Stomach Up in 2020. Sturdy feminine belters like Adele and Whitney Houston had been Jack’s songstresses of alternative.

“Actually essentially the most dramatic songs you may consider, these had been our songs,” she remembered with a giggle.

Makena mentioned her brother was the funniest, most flamboyant particular person she knew. Nonetheless, Jack endured a years-long wrestle with psychological sickness.
Courtesy picture

Makena mentioned her brother was the funniest, most flamboyant particular person she knew. Nonetheless, Jack endured a years-long wrestle with psychological sickness. The household left no stone unturned in searching for remedy for him.

“He was simply too good for this world,” she mentioned. “I do know he’s at peace, and that’s what issues to me.”

AspenOUT is a non-profit group based mostly within the Roaring Fork Valley that gives assist and companies to the LGBTQ+ group.

Kevin McManamon is the manager director. He mentioned that simply because Aspen and the valley seem to be a progressive place doesn’t imply queer youth at all times really feel completely secure.

“Nationwide information makes it actually exhausting for youths to be who they’re,” he mentioned, referencing anti-LGBTQ+ laws launched throughout the nation.

He mentioned it’s exhausting to totally seize the scope of younger queer folks within the valley, as many wait to return out of the closet till after they depart their household houses. However for anybody struggling, he encourages them to achieve out to AspenOUT for assist connecting somebody in want with therapists specifically educated in LGBTQ+ points.

In keeping with Psychological Well being America, an estimated 50 million folks had been experiencing psychological sickness, with shut to five% experiencing extreme psychological sickness in 2020.

Psychological sickness can affect anybody. Nonetheless, people who’re experiencing poverty, victims of abuse, these with disabilities, and people in marginalized communities are at greater threat for affected by psychological sickness, in keeping with the World Well being Group.

In keeping with The Trevor Challenge, one of many largest mental-health organizations and suicide-prevention companies for LGBTQ+ youth, “charges of suicidal ideas have trended upward amongst LGBTQ younger folks” between 2019 and 2022.

Of their 2022 survey of practically 34,000 LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24 throughout the United States, they discovered that 45% of LGBTQ youth thought-about trying suicide within the previous 12 months.

The group has a disaster line that’s obtainable 24/7 and a peer assist community for queer youth between the ages of 13 and 24 years previous.

Sarah McGuiness, a therapeutic and academic counselor who spoke at Jack’s service, informed The Aspen Instances that it’s essential to test in in your family members, even those that don’t present indicators of psychological sickness.

“I feel that an important piece for folks to grasp is that — in the event that they’re struggling — there’s assist obtainable,” she mentioned. “Whether or not you discover it on-line, down the road, at college or by means of your physician’s workplace, it doesn’t matter. It’s obtainable,”

She mentioned she acknowledges that checking in with associates and family members frequently and advising them to hunt skilled assist when vital is extremely essential; however for some, it gained’t stop a suicide from occurring. Nobody is at fault.

“Suicide is a extremely impulsive habits,” she mentioned.

Years of analysis reveals that “suicides are usually pretty impulsive acts throughout short-term crises,” and “may be attributable to a number of components that typically might not be completely clear to the general public and even family and friends,” in keeping with Vox.

Nonetheless, suicide is preceded by psychological sickness. And there are many assets obtainable to those that are struggling.

In case you are contemplating suicide, search assist by means of the nationwide suicide prevention lifeline at 988.

The Colorado Disaster Companies may be reached by dialing 844-493-8255 or you may textual content “TALK” to 38255.