Peter Wollheim, Idaho Mental Health Champion, Dies 

click to enlarge Dr. Peter Wolheim, 67, died at home on July 21, 2015. - LAURIE PEARMAN
  • Laurie Pearman
  • Dr. Peter Wolheim, 67, died at home on July 21, 2015.


Idaho, and the Boise State University community in particular, are mourning the death of Peter Wollheim, professor emeritus at the university, founding board member of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Action Network and a tireless mental health advocate.

Wollheim, 67, died at home July 21. According to an announcement from Boise State, family and friends said that "in the end, he took his own life."

Arrangements are under the direction of the Cremation Society of Idaho. A memorial to honor Wollheim is expected to be scheduled sometime in the fall.

Wollheim was a frequent contributor to Boise Weekly reports on mental health and managed a local suicide hotline for 15 years before it was shut down due to lack of funding. The Idaho hotline was plugged back in by late 2012 and today is available 24/7. Wollheim, the son of Holocaust survivors, came to Boise State in 1989 where he taught in the Department of Communication until his retirement in 2012. He continued to serve as an adjunct instructor. 

As schools around the country prepare for the start of classes, the issue of mental health care on college campuses is again in the headlines.

"I think we're constantly striving to be better as a culture, but we still have a lot of work to do to destigmatize depression, anxiety and even suicide—and take care of our emotional health as much as our physical health," Karla West, director of counseling services at Boise State, told BW.

Idaho is consistently among the states with the highest suicide rates. In 2013, Idaho had the eighth-highest suicide rate in the United States—44 percent higher than the national average. Between 2009 and 2013, 79 percent of Idaho suicides were by men.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call 1-800-273-TALK.

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