By Katy Savage
Suicide Six in Pomfret is getting a new name this summer.
The resort announced the name change in a June 28 post on its website, explaining a desire to be more sensitive to mental health issues.
“Our resort team embraces the increasing awareness surrounding mental health and shares the growing concerns about the insensitive nature of the historical name,” the post said. “The feelings that the word ‘suicide’ evokes can have a significant impact on many in our community.”
The post continued: “It is vital that the name better represents and celebrates what makes it a beloved and vibrant part of this community. Though some may find the change difficult, we stand by our conviction that this evolution is warranted for an iconic treasure and, more importantly, necessary to continue its rich history of inclusion and accessibility.”
Suicide Six, sometimes called S6, is credited with being the first established ski area in the country. Wallace “Bunny” Bertram, a former ski instructor at Dartmouth College, installed a primitive rope tow system on the mountain in 1936.
Bertram, who died in 1981, called the area “Suicide Six,” becuase he joked skiing down the steep slope would be akin to a suicide attempt. The name, “Suicide Six” stuck and replaced the former name, “Hill No. 6.”
Suicide Six has hosted the alpine Fisk Trophy Race since 1937, which Olympic athletes including Jimmy Cochran have won in the past. Suicide Six was also one of the first ski resorts to embrace snowboarding. It hosted the National Snow Surfing Championships in 1982. Snow surfing later became known as snowboarding.
Bertram invested $40,000 in Suicide Six in 1954 to purchase a Poma lift before he sold the ski area to Laurance Rockefeller in 1961. Suicide Six is now part of Woodstock Inn & Resort. It has three lifts and 24 trails.
More recently, Suicide Six has taken active stances in social justice issues. Suicide Six is a member of Ski Vermont’s Fairness, Equity and Diversity initiative, along with 48 other ski resorts, including Killington. The Suicide Six website has a post about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We are committed to ensuring that every guest’s pursuit of rewarding and wholesome fun is inclusive of all who wish to participate,” the post said. “Suicide Six is actively partnering with organizations and schools in our area to grow awareness and expand diversity programs that seek to engage marginalized members of our community. We fully recognize more can and must be done, and we pledge to do our best to bring about meaningful within our organization and community.”
The new name of Suicide Six will be announced before the summer ends, according to the website.
“After much thought and consideration, research and community outreach, a new name has been developed and will be announced in the coming weeks,” according to the website. “This change is being made with great care and respect.”