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September 2017 E-NEWS

Table of Contents

Youth Suicide Prevention


UPHA Mission, Vision and Values


2018 Conference: Save The Date


Doctors Without Borders Recruiting in Salt Lake


Utah Community Health Workers Section


Advocacy Survey


Donate to UPHA from Amazon Purchases


Board Spotlight: Carol A. Okumura, MPH(c)


Student Spotlight: Andrea Baxter


Youth Suicide Prevention

 It can be hard to remember how it felt to be a teen, caught in that gray area between childhood and adulthood. Sure, it's a time of tremendous possibility, but it also can be a period of stress and worry. There's pressure to fit in socially, to perform academically, and to act responsibly. Adolescence is also a time of greater independence that often conflicts with the rules and expectations set by others.

  The reasons behind a youth's suicide or attempted suicide can be complex. Although suicide is relatively rare among children, the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases greatly during adolescence. Suicide has become the leading cause of death for young people in Utah ages 10 to 17. Suicide rates differ between boys and girls. Girls attempt suicide about twice as often as boys. Yet, boys die by suicide about four times as often girls.

  Young people with mental health problems — such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or insomnia — are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts. Youth going through major life changes (parents' divorce, moving, a parent leaving home due to military service or parental separation, financial changes) and those who are victims of bullying are at greater risk of suicidal thoughts.

  The risk of suicide increases dramatically when kids and teens have access to firearms, and over half of all suicides in Utah are completed with a gun. Because Utah is high gun ownership state, it is even more important that guns and ammunition should be unloaded, locked, and kept out of the reach of children and teens.

  Factors that increase the risk of suicide among youth include:

·       A psychological disorder, especially depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol and drug use

·       Feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation

·       Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that often accompany depression

·       A previous suicide attempt

·       A family history of depression or suicide

·       Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse

·       Lack of a support network, poor relationships with parents or peers, or feelings of social isolation

·       Dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive family or community or hostile school environment

  Warning Signs

Suicide among youth often happens after a stressful life event, such as problems at school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a major family conflict.

  Youth who are thinking about suicide might:

·       Talk about suicide or death in general

·       Give hints that they might not be around anymore

·       Talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty

·       Pull away from friends or family

·       Write songs, poems, or letters about death, separation, and loss

·       Start giving away treasured possessions to siblings or friends

·       Lose the desire to take part in favorite things or activities

·       Have trouble concentrating or thinking clearly

·       Experience changes in eating or sleeping habits

·       Engage in risk-taking behaviors

·       Lose interest in school or sports

  What Can Parents Do?

Many youth who attempt or die by suicide have given some type of warning to loved ones ahead of time. So it's important for parents to know the warning signs so youth who might be suicidal can get the help they need.

 Some adults feel that kids who say they are going to hurt or kill themselves are "just doing it for attention." It's important to realize that if youth are ignored when seeking attention, it may increase the chance of them harming themselves. It's important to see warning signs as serious, not as "attention-seeking" to be ignored.


Watch and Listen

Keep a close eye on a youth who is depressed and withdrawn. Understanding depression in youth is very important since it can look different from commonly held beliefs about depression. For example, it may take the form of problems with friends, grades, sleep, or being cranky and irritable rather than chronic sadness or crying. Keep in mind that monitoring of social media accounts is essential. Know what your youth is doing online and who they are communicating with. It’s not snooping, it’s parenting.


It's important to try to keep the lines of communication open and express your concern, support, and love. If your youth confides in you, show that you take those concerns seriously. A fight with a friend might not seem like a big deal to you in the larger scheme of things, but for a youth it can feel immense and consuming. It's important not to minimize or discount what your child is going through, as this can increase his or her sense of hopelessness. If your child doesn't feel comfortable talking with you, suggest a more neutral person, such as another relative, a clergy member, a coach, a school counselor, or your child's doctor.


Get Help

If you learn that your child is thinking about suicide, get help immediately. Your doctor can refer you to a mental health provider, or your health insurance can provide a list of providers in your area. In an emergency, you can call (800) 273-TALK (8255).


If your child is in a crisis situation, seek immediate help or go to the nearest emergency room to get a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and referrals to appropriate resources. If you're unsure about whether you should bring your child to the emergency room, contact your doctor or call (800) 273-TALK (8255) for help.


If you've scheduled an appointment with a mental health professional, make sure to keep the appointment, even if your child says he or she is feeling better or doesn't want to go. Suicidal thoughts do tend to come and go; however, it is important that your child get help developing the skills needed to decrease the likelihood that suicidal thoughts and behaviors will emerge again if a crisis arises.


Suicide is preventable with attention, support, and resources for youth in need. If your child is struggling, ask for help.


Resources - click on the images below

SPL logo

UofU Crisis Line Logo

SafeUT Logo

Search “SafeUT” in your smartphone’s app store
and download

NAMI Utah Logo



The UPHA Board is currently in the process of updating UPHA's strategic plan.  Check out our updated Vision, Mission, and Values Statements below. Look forward to seeing our full 2017 - 2019 UPHA Strategic Plan in the coming months.

UPHA Vision
UPHA is a trusted champion for improving public health
through innovation, leadership, and collaboration.

UPHA Mission:
Protect and improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status.

UPHA Values
UPHA strives to:

  • Advocate sound public health policy
  • Ensure a healthy and safe environment
  • Promote community and population health
  • Inform and engage the community about public health issues
  • Support and develop the public health workforce
  • Champion health equity and social justice
  • Promote access to health care


UPHA 2018 conference: save the date

2018 Conf SaveTheDate


DWB Logo

DWB Theme
On Tuesday, September 26, you are invited to join Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières for a recruitment information session in Salt Lake City, UT. We will also be hosting a specialized recruitment information session for midwives on Wednesday, September 27. This is your opportunity to meet our recruitment team and learn about how you can join our pool of dedicated aid workers. We’re currently recruiting for a variety of medical and non-medical positions.

Recruitment Info Session

Salt Lake City Public Library
210 East 400 South - 
Conference Room 4
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

September 26, 2017
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. MDT


DWB Image

Info Session for Midwives

Salt Lake City Public Library
210 East 400 South - 
Conference Room C
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

September 27, 2017
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. MDT


DWB Image 2

Please help distribute this event posting to your co-workers and friends.
Salt Lake City Info Session Flyer
Salt Lake City Midwives Info Session Flyer

This is Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)




We are excited to announce and open registration for our Annual CHW Celebration Dinner, September 29th 2017. It has been 2 years since the organization of our CHW section under the Utah Public Health Association.

Register now for the Celebration Dinner at www.upha.org/chw

As we continue to promote awareness and value of this work we want to recognize the CHWs in Utah for their contribution to addressing the social determinants of health in their communities and we need your help!

SAVE THE DATE: September 29th and join us as we celebrate the work of CHWs in Utah! Look out for more information on how to register on our facebook page Utah Community Health Workers, go to www.upha.org/chw and register for this event or send us an email and we will make sure that we add you to our email list serve. You can also become a member of the CHW Secrtion while registering for the dinner.

What we need you to:

  • Save The Date! September 29th 2017. Utah Community Health Workers Annual Celebration Dinner!
  • Nominate someone or yourself for one of the awards. Criteria will be posted soon on our Facebook and website, www.upha.org/chw.
  • Volunteer to run for any of the following Leadership positions for the Section:
    • Chair Elect
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Communications Chair
    • Education and Training Chair (Workforce Development)
    • Advocacy Chair

For more information on positions please see our website/facebook or email otupola@upha.org.

If you are interested in donating to the CHW Section or our Annual meeting please contact Oreta M. Tupola at otupola@upha.org

Advocacy survey

During the month of August, the Policy Unit sent out a survey to the membership to better understand the advocacy activities members are participating in. Thank you for taking part!
60 members took part in the survey. In the survey we asked which advocacy activities they participated in and how often over the last 12 months.

Here are some of the major takeaways from the survey.

  • Members participated most in advocacy efforts on social media (103 instances of advocacy).
  • After social media, members participated most in correspondence to legislators (99 instances of advocacy).
  • When asked about face-to-face meetings with legislators, 40% of respondents stated that they had at least had one meeting with a legislator.
  • Only a few members were involved in a political campaign.
  • Across all provided advocacy activities, almost two-thirds of respondents had not participated in advocacy in the last 12 months.

The Policy Unit will use this data to set advocacy goals and plan activities for the coming year.  


UPHA has registered through Amazon Smile, which is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you.

Amazon Smile Logo

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. You use the same account on Amazon.com and AmazonSmile, and you can change your charity at any time.

UPHA will now receive the Amazon donated funds on a quarterly basis, starting this November. When you shop on Amazon, use the Smile.Amazon.com link to ensure your donation goes to UPHA. Use the link below to register UPHA as your charity of choice.  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/87-0327438

Learn more at our website:  www.upha.org/amazonsmile.html


Board Spotlight: Carol A. Okumura, MPH(c)

Carol Okumura photo
  1. Where do you currently work/go to school?
  2. By weekday I am a Medicaid Program Coordinator, by weekend and evening a graduate student at Westminster College

  3. Why did you choose to pursue public health as your profession? 

    I chose public health to develop my skills and passion for others so that I might help create a more equitable context and elevated state of health and happiness within the communities we serve.

  1. What is your favorite vacation spot? 
  2. Hawaii – I’ve only been once but the notion of returning is terribly dreamy.

  3. What time do you typically go to bed and get up in the morning? 

    Usually to bed around 11pm, and waking at 6am.

  1. If money weren’t an issue right now, what would you be doing? 
  2. Traveling, teaching about family planning and health disparities, taking up new hobbies (gardening, ukulele, drawing), and spending more time on outdoor adventures!

  3. What has been the most rewarding project you’ve worked on as a public health professional? 

    I am currently in the middle of a project aimed at improving access to contraceptive care.  The potential to infuse even more public health principles into this realm of healthcare delivery could have a wonderful impact, and I am so grateful to be part of the project.

  1. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
  2. Ooh that’s tough…  Off the top of my head I’ll go with the tofu salad from Zao Asian Café (add guacamame – guacamole with edamame – and skip the noodles).  J

  3. What is the best thing you’ve done in your life? 

    It’s a tie between adopting my sweet pug beagle mix (=puggle) and taking the leap to try aerial fitness classes.

  1. What do you to do relax? 
  2. Yoga while listening to soothing music, followed by a cup of tea and an Epsom salt bath.

  3. If you could give only one reason why someone should join UPHA, what would it be?

    The opportunity to learn and share alongside incredible public health practitioners.  We are all better together, and UPHA is an outstanding place to become part of a collective impact.

Student Spotlight: Andrea Baxter

Andrea Baxter

University of Utah
Master of Public Health

As a high school student, Andrea Baxter had the opportunity to serve on her city’s youth council. While serving on this council she was given the opportunity to be involved in the disaster drills that the city would do at least once a year. The council were often patients or actors for the drills. This was the beginning of her time as a disaster junkie.

She graduated in 2016 with her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in Health Promotion and Education with an emphasis in Emergency Medicine.

While she was working on earning her Bachelor’s degree, she was able to teach Advanced First Aid, certify as an EMT-B, certify as a Basic Life Support Instructor, and earn an Honors Certificate.

Her time in Health Promotion and Education was the mile marker that led her to Public Health. During her senior year she met with Dr. Sundwall and was given the opportunity to intern at the Utah Department of Health. Her internship experience included being involved with the writing and drafting of the Pre-Hospital Care portion of the Earthquake Plan and writing an Emergency Medical Services and Hospital Injury Prevention Survey.

Upon the conclusion of her time with the Utah Department of Health, she began her Master of Public Health at the University of Utah. Her focus continues to be on disasters and emergency preparedness. Part of her time has been working as a research assistant. Her work has included writing an infectious disease annex, planning the Public Health & Disasters Conference, and developing a certificate in Public Health Emergency Preparedness. She has also been highly involved in the Student Advisory Committee. She served as the Public Relations Officer her first year and now she is serving as the Chair of the Committee.

Her degree program has led her to working for the Salt Lake County Health Department as an intern. Here she has been given opportunities within disaster preparedness and outside of this main focus. She has been able to work in her other public health interests which are policy and public relations. She has been working alongside the executive director on the Syringe Exchange Programs in Salt Lake County and has been assisting in the development of regulations to help these programs succeed. Each of these experiences has solidified her love of Public Health and her desire to help the world stay safe when it comes to disasters (natural or manmade).

When she is not trying to convince everyone around her that they need to have 96-hour kits, she can be found getting her hands dirty throwing clay pots, making delicious treats in the kitchen, playing the clarinet, being active with her family, or ballroom dancing with her husband.

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