By Sherrie Norris
The North Carolina Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is presenting a special program in Boone in hopes of bringing the High Country community together to learn about the latest research regarding suicide prevention.
“Firearm Suicide Prevention: Clinical and Community Approaches” will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 6, at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Institute for Health and Human Services Building, located at 400 University Hall Drive in Boone.
Featured guest speaker, Dr. Emmy Betz, is a colleague of local psychologist, Dr. Kurt D. Michael, who is coordinating the event.
A Stanley R. Aeschleman Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and Assistant Department Chair at Appalachian State University, Michael serves on the volunteer board of directors for the NC Chapter of AFSP, and studies the phenomenon of suicide, especially as it relates to children and adolescents.
“The signature health issue in my lab is the problem of suicide and the development of assessment, intervention, and prevention techniques aimed directly at the problem experienced by children and adolescents in the High Country, in NC and national wide,” Michael said.
It is Michael’s hope that the upcoming event will expand the understanding of these practical approaches of suicide prevention.
“I hope people learn that reducing access to lethal means is a practical approach to preventing death by suicide,” he added.
The presentation is open to the public and specifically geared toward students, mental health providers, physicians, emergency medicine personnel, firefighters, teachers and administrators. It will offer attendees a first-hand look at what researchers are exploring in the world of suicide prevention, Michael said. A Q&A-based conversation will follow, bringing the community together with a leader in the field of suicide prevention research.
Dr. Betz is an emergency physician who works clinically at the University of Colorado Hospital and conducts research in injury epidemiology and prevention. She is currently an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine (Univ. of Colorado School of Medicine), Deputy Director of the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (Colorado School of Public Health), and a Research Physician at the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Core (Eastern Colorado VA). She received her MD and MPH from Johns Hopkins University and completed her clinical training at the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Betz’s area of research expertise is “patient- centered injury prevention,” or the development and testing of acceptable, effective interventions for clinical settings.
Her current areas of work include “lethal means safety” (i.e., reducing access to guns and other lethal methods for those who are suicidal), older driver retirement, and firearm safety in dementia. She has worked with numerous state and national organizations and co-founded the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition, a collaborative effort between public health and medical professionals and firearm retailers to reduce firearm suicides.
Dr. Betz serves as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on multiple research projects funded through the National Institutes of Health and private foundations, and has published over 100 peer- reviewed manuscripts. She is passionate about using public speaking, publications outside of scientific journals, and media engagement to help educate the public and policy-makers about injury prevention, and gave a TEDxMileHigh talk on firearm suicide.
For more information, contact [email protected]