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Colorado School of Public Health News and Stories

Suicide Prevention

Research    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Community Health    Training    Worker Health

New Training Offered to Support Teacher Mental Health During Emergency Drills

Teachers and staff shoulder a significant burden of responsibility for emergency preparedness in pre-k-12 schools. While emergency drills, including active harmer (lockdown, lockout) drills, are designed to instill confidence, they can sometimes lead to fear, anxiety and confusion. Teachers are expected to lead the drills by directing and evacuating students, locking down classrooms, providing safety checks, and emotionally supporting students. Teachers often have unanswered questions and increased anxieties associated with drills and other emergency preparedness efforts. This underscores the importance of providing necessary resources to better support the school workforce, including psychological preparedness and other mental health supports, in addition to regular access to safety and security personnel

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Mental Health    Suicide Prevention

Boosting Mental Health in the Community

In preparing this newsletter, I was struck by the broad array of initiatives led by our faculty to address community mental health needs. I was also reminded of the complex challenges our state faces.

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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Colorado Breaks Mass Shooting Record as Gun Deaths Rise

“We need to be looking at what's happening every single day in urban communities and across the country, in terms of suicide, if we really wanna look at where the bulk of gun deaths are,” said Emmy Betz, professor of epidemiology and deputy director of the Injury & Violence Prevention Center.

Author Colorado Public Radio | Publish Date December 08, 2022
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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Ricochet: An American Trauma

Emmy Betz, professor of epidemiology, deputy director of the Injury and Violence Prevention Center, and the co-founder of the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition, a group bringing together the firearms industry and public health researchers to prevent gun suicides, is interviewed for the PBS documentary.

Author PBS News Hour | Publish Date November 28, 2022
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Mental Health    Suicide Prevention    Environment    Worker Health

Preventing Suicide and Protecting Mental Health in the Construction Industry

There is a mental health epidemic going on in the construction industry. People working in construction are nearly 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Among working-age men, construction workers account for nearly 20% of all suicide deaths. As of 2020, construction workers were five times more likely to die from suicide than from a workplace injury or accident.

Author David Shapiro | Publish Date November 15, 2022
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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

We Want to Prevent Suicide in the Military — Congress Won’t Let Us

In an op-ed in The Hill, Emmy Betz, deputy director of the Injury & Violence Prevention Center, and other experts highlight how a provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act restricts needed research on how gun safety efforts impact suicide prevention among U.S. military personnel.

Author The Hill | Publish Date June 10, 2022
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Students    Mental Health    Student and Alumni    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Community Health    Maternal & Child Health

Digital Duo Takes Home Award for an Innovative Campaign to Combat Mental Health Issues in Youth

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that half of the nation’s adolescents have experienced a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some time in their lives. Many young people receive treatment to prevent these and other issues from worsening and becoming chronic, but many others do not, leading to problems that persist into adulthood and have serious consequences, both for the individuals and for society.

Author Tyler Smith | Publish Date May 19, 2022
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Research    Mental Health    Epidemiology    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Psychiatric Diagnoses Are Associated With Selection of Lethal Means in Suicide Deaths

Suicides are the second leading cause of death among 15-44-year-olds and the tenth overall leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide prevention efforts include consideration of whether an at-risk individual has access to lethal means and whether an individual has any psychiatric disorder such as mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or substance abuse disorders. A psychiatric disorder diagnosis is a known risk for factor for suicide. Previous studies that examined specific means of suicide focused on demographic factors such as gender, race, urban/rural designation, age, or health status, and whether those factors are associated with specific lethal means. A recent study from the Colorado School of Public Health examined whether the choice of means by which a person dies by suicide is associated with specific psychiatric diagnoses.

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Students    Mental Health    Graduation    Suicide Prevention

Meet the First Graduate of the Population Mental Health & Wellbeing Program

I virtually sat down with Alexa Hansen to talk about her experiences at the Colorado School of Public Health and her plans for the future. Here's what she had to say.

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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention    Community Health

The Mental Health Advice We All Need Right Now

In a recent article in 5280 Magazine, Dr. Jenn Leiferman, professor and chair of the Department of Community & Behavioral Health, and other mental health experts share practical advice for coping during the challenging winter months ahead.

Author 5280 | Publish Date November 09, 2020
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Community    COVID-19    Mental Health    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Infectious disease    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

COVID-19 and Suicide: An Uncertain Connection

I live and work in Colorado, a beautiful state that can look to an outsider like a year-round playground of sunshine and skiing. But my state has a big problem: suicide rates that are among the highest in the country. 

Author Emmy Betz | Publish Date April 22, 2020
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Research    Mental Health    Suicide Prevention    Environment    Worker Health

Mental Health in the Mountains

Mental health is at the front and center as our world faces the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 9.6 million American adults suffer from a serious mental illness —that is 1 in 5 adults. Mountain and rural communities, ski towns specifically, have significantly higher rates of suicide compared to the national average (14.0 per 100,000). Destinations such as Telluride and Aspen in Colorado and Alta and Snowbird in Utah have up to two to three times as many suicides as the national average. It has been referred to as the “paradise paradox”.” With the allure of the West’s landscapes and outdoor lifestyles often comes a host of realities including isolation, lack of mental health care, easy access to firearms, and financial stressors. Experts from the University of Colorado Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center have also cited the social makeup of these communities as a contributing factor to mental health conditions and suicide. The transient nature of resort communities results in people having to regularly rebuild their support systems. 

Last September, we partnered with community groups in Summit County, Utah to invite local employers to share their perspectives on the topic. Representatives from the tourism and service industries expressed the significant mental health struggle their communities face. One participant, an owner of a local restaurant group, summed it up as a “toxic work environment.” “You have people who come here to live the dream but have to work three jobs just to get by,” he explained. “We live and work in a place with primarily seasonal jobs which come with income instability, very high demands, and stress in peak times.” Other participants shared how they support employees by shifting schedules to allow employees to take days off even at busy times. “Overall, we heard from local business leaders that mental health is an issue they care about. They want to find solutions to ensure that their workforce is safe not only when they come to work, but when they go home,” shared Lili Tenney, director of outreach at the Center for Health, Work & Environment. “These employers often face ongoing struggles just to stay in business, so to have people take time off to share their personal stories and commitment to take action was very encouraging.” 

In response to the workforce needs of these communities, our Center partnered with the Depression Center to host two days of workshops in February for mental health and suicide prevention in the workplace. The in-person trainings focused on reducing stigma, identifying warning signs, gaining crucial conversation skills, and establishing adaptable workplace supports. The first day trained 150 employees from Vail Resorts representing seven company divisions including base and mountain operations, hospitality, skier services, and corporate administration. The group of supervisors ranged from 25-66+ years of age and responded in pre and post surveys that they had all been in contact with someone who appeared to be experiencing mental health challenges at work. Sixty-nine percent of them reported being in contact with someone who appeared suicidal. The second day was hosted by the Park City Chamber of Commerce and brought together managers and supervisors from the service and tourism industries. Participants improved their knowledge about suicide from pre-training (3.1/5) to post-training (4.1/5) and improved their ability to get help for someone considering suicide from pre-training (3.4/5) to post-training (4.6/5). 

“Employers in these communities are eager to play a role in supporting their employees,” says Tenney. “While our work at the Center aims to serve workers across the Western region, we are focused on developing community models that provide education and resources to help prevent mental illness and suicide in all places where access to care is lacking and risk factors are high.” 

To receive more information on supporting employees, visit our Health Links Resource Center and training opportunities.   

Special thanks to Alex Yannacone, Director of Education and Community Programs at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, CONNECT Summit County, Park City Chamber of Commerce, and Vail Resorts.   

Author Liliana Tenney, DrPH, MPH | Publish Date April 07, 2020
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Community    Mental Health    Community and Practice    Suicide Prevention

2020 Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

Mental Health Colorado and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Colorado Chapter are once again hosting Suicide Prevention Day in February. Registration isn't open just yet, but you can check out the event page on Facebook for more information and updates as the event gets closer.

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Community    Mental Health    Community and Practice    Suicide Prevention

Holiday Blues?

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many people, especially students. If you think you might need someone to talk to, the AMC campus has resources to help students, residents, and fellows. The Department of Psychiatry offers mental health appointments that can often be scheduled within a week. For more information, call (303) 724-4716 or go to the Student and Resident Mental Health website.

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Press Coverage    Suicide Prevention

First-Of-Its-Kind Study of Colorado Suicides Reveals Traumatized Communities

A study across four Colorado counties reported a slow economy and lack of jobs as risk factors for suicide.

Author The Colorado Sun | Publish Date January 03, 2019
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Press Coverage    Alumni    Epidemiology    Student and Alumni    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention

Study: One In Three Colorado Suicide Deaths Followed Binge Drinking

A ColoradoSPH alum at CDPHE shines light on the relationship between alcohol and suicide in the Rocky Mountain State.

Author The Colorado Sun | Publish Date October 29, 2018
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Research    Epidemiology    Suicide Prevention

Researchers Find Little Association Between Suicide and Hypoxia

Following an extensive analysis of published studies, research conducted in part by Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health, has found that while suicide rates are higher at higher altitudes, they are unlikely caused by hypoxia, (low oxygen) at these elevations.

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Colorado School of Public Health In the News

The Denver Post

“Hear/Say”, a groundbreaking art exhibition, explores the effects of high-concentration cannabis

news outletThe Denver Post
Publish DateJune 11, 2024

At the intersection of art, science, and health, BRDG Project Gallery at 3300 Tejon St. in Denver hosting “Hear/Say”, a groundbreaking art exhibition exploring the effects of high-concentration cannabis. Sponsored by the Colorado School of Public Health, the show is a science-based examination that encourages conversation and open-minded understanding of a controversial subject through the artistic lens of local and national artists. The public is invited to view the exhibition from June 14 through July 14, 2024 during regular BRDG Project gallery hours. 

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Cancer Network

Learning to “Aim High” Within Male-Dominated Fields in Public Health

news outletCancer Network
Publish DateJune 10, 2024

Within public health, the field of health economics is one that has historically been male-dominated. Forging a path to find your voice and learning to stand out as a woman can be difficult. During a Breaking Barriers: Women in Oncology discussion, Cathy Bradley, PhD, and Lindsay M. Sabik, PhD, both spoke about why they chose to work in this field and how they both have had to overcame challenges hold the positions they have today.

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Man with First Human Case of H5N2 Bird Flu Variant Dies in Mexico

news outletHealthline
Publish DateJune 07, 2024

A 59-year-old man in Mexico who contracted a type of bird flu known as A(H5N2) died in April, the World Health Organization said June 5Trusted Source. This is the first laboratory-confirmed human case of infection with an A(H5N2) virus worldwide, and the first avian H5 virus reported in a person in Mexico, the WHO said. “These viruses, such as H5N1 and now H5N2, primarily circulate among birds, with occasional spillover into mammals, including humans, under the right circumstances,” said Daniel Pastula, MD, MHS, chief of neuro-infectious diseases and global neurology at the University of Colorado and Colorado School of Public Health.

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Smoke exposure from California’s wildfires linked to 52,000 early deaths, study says

news outletSTAT News
Publish DateJune 07, 2024

When large swaths of the East Coast were shrouded in wildfire smoke last summer, scientists in California grimly joked that maybe, finally, power brokers in New York and Washington, D.C. would be spurred to act on the burning issue that has long plagued the West Coast. Despite wildfire seasons that regularly burn hundreds of thousands of acres in California alone each year, researchers know relatively little about the long-term effects of chronic wildfire smoke on the body, and funding to reduce the known harms of exposure is scarce.

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