CU Population Center

Institute of Behavioral Science

Erin Kelly investigates youth mortality from firearms

As gun violence continues to plague communities across the nation, CUPC Affiliate Dr. Erin Kelly remains committed to identifying risk factors for youth deaths involving firearms. Dr. Kelly is a new Center affiliate and we are pleased to support her recent research through CUPC’s seed grant program.

Dr. Kelly and Dr. Jani Little are collaborating to identify patterns and the contexts for youth deaths involving firearms in the U.S. using national restricted data. Understanding context will aid in identifying risk factors for youth deaths, such as patterns in demographics, life experiences, methods of firearm access, as well as socioeconomic and geographic contexts. This work is essential to inform life-saving interventions.

Suicide is another critical public health issue, accounting for higher proportions of death among communities of color in the U.S.: 3.1% of deaths for American Indian or Alaska Native populations, 1.9% for Asian or Pacific Islander groups, and 1.8% for Hispanics, compared to 1.7% of deaths among Whites in 2019.

While there are multiple risk factors that shape suicide risk, Dr. Kelly’s work adds nuance by examining the relevance of each risk factor by different demographic and socio-cultural experiences. In ongoing work, she is using restricted data from the National Violent Death Reporting System to understand: (1) The dominant emerging patterns in suicides among racial/ethnic groups compared to Whites, stratified by race, age, sexual orientation, and suicide method; and (2) How individual, relationship, community, and societal risk factors (including firearm access) vary across suicide deaths among varying racial/ethnic and gender populations.

Dr. Erin Kelly is Research Associate, Department of Community & Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She as her doctorate in public health from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado, a masters in anthropology from the University of Colorado Denver, and a bachelors in cultural studies from Wartburg College.