Dear students, faculty and staff,
It is my great privilege and honor to lead the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as we work to deliver the highest-quality education and healthcare today, while shaping the healthcare of the future. This role also comes with the fundamental and critical responsibility of elevating the collective voice of our students, faculty and staff who continue to sound the alarm in the wake of continued gun violence in our state and across the country.
We see the impacts of firearms-related injury and death on our campus every day, and the recent tragedy in Boulder again brought a widespread national affliction to our very doorstep. Colorado ranks in the top five U.S. states for mass shootings, and we lose a growing number of individuals each year to suicide-by-firearm and other gun-involved incidents. What's more, gun violence disproportionately affects women, children, people of color and other at-risk members of our community. The hazards are further compounded at the intersections of mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence and an aging population.
At CU Anschutz, our emergency physicians and nurses witness the violent destruction that firearms reap on lives and in communities. Our psychiatry faculty and mental health providers see the damage this scourge causes in the fear, anxiety and anger of people and families under their care. Our students, who have grown up with the realities of increasing gun violence, train in our classrooms, labs and clinics for careers that will most assuredly be impacted by them. Our public health experts trace the causes of these issues upstream in search of opportunities for prevention and race to find ways to effectively intervene further downstream. These experiences - your experiences - are a testament to a nation in peril, and should be taken together as an urgent warning that the time for lifesaving action is in danger of passing us by.
As leaders in health and medicine, we would be remiss if we let yet another moment in the national conversation on gun violence pass without action. We have a duty as care providers, educators and scientists to advocate for measures that afford protections to the most vulnerable among us. We have a responsibility to use our platform to inform others about the issues with which we have become all too familiar, and to advance evidence-based, data-driven decision making. We have an obligation to find ways to stem the deleterious outcomes of disaster and disease, in all forms, and to help shape policies that address head-on the great risks to our welfare. It is incumbent upon us to help minimize the costs of lasting trauma, chronic stress and sustained threats to our individual and collective sense of safety, and the toll they take on our physical and mental well-being.
We cannot disentangle the complexities of this crisis from our mission, or from the calling so many of us at CU Anschutz feel to improve lives, promote healing and foster hope. Let us leverage this moment in time to take stock of our many strengths as a community, and to channel our energy and expertise into action. Let us continue to raise our voices, let us unite and stand together, and let us all do our part to end gun violence now.