‘Kissed by God’ documentary shines light on mental illness, substance abuse
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Mara Rhodes, community prevention coordinator for the Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership, hopes the story of one of surfing’s greatest icons attracts folks to the Chief Theater this week, especially the younger crowd in their 20s and 30s.
The Andy Irons documentary, “Kissed by God,” will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 and Oct. 11. The $15 ticket price will help fund the Health Partnership’s regional prevention work around mental health conditions like substance use disorder.
“I think the piece that is gripping and worth thinking about is that mental illness and substance use disorder don’t look a certain way,” said Rhodes, who also co-founded the Rx Task Force, a local coalition that educates the public on the risks of prescription drug use, misuse and addiction.
What: Screening of “Kissed by God” documentary
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 and Thursday, Oct. 11; doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Chief Theater, 813 Lincoln Ave.
“There are very few stories told about professional athletes that go through this,” Rhodes said, speaking about the documentary. “There are a lot of high-achieving people dealing with anxiety and mental illness.”
The documentary tells the secret life of surfing legend Andy Irons and how he medicated himself with drugs — illicit and prescribed — while dealing with mental illness. The professional pressure surrounding him kept the reason for his death a secret even after he died. It took about five years before Irons’ family began to talk about what really caused his death — a heart attack complicated by a slew of prescription drugs in his system.
“There is a lot of secrecy and opioid use among professional athletes,” Rhodes said. “We (Steamboat Springs) have an energetic and athletic population. There’s a reason why we have an opioid use disorder crisis in our community.”
Rhodes has been working for three years to bring the movie to Routt County in a high-profile manner. She reached out to the service industry in town that employs a lot of the younger crowd in hopes they’ll hit the theater to see “Kissed by God.”
“We’re looking for an opportunity to educate the public,” Rhodes said. “This part of our population is often times too busy with work to attend community events. But this portion of our community is also hit hard by this public health crisis.”
Rhodes hopes young people will take in the movie and learn that there are resources in the Yampa Valley in the form of places like the Health Partnership and The Mark McManus Foundation, which Rhodes founded in memory of her brother, who struggled with mental health and addiction disorders and died from an unintentional overdose.
Tickets for “Kissed by God” can be purchased at chieftheater.com, at the door and at All That on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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