Date of Submission

Spring 5-6-2021

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Department

Architecture

Primary Advisor

Dr. Anthony Rizzuto

Abstract

Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, more than double the number of homicide deaths. This thesis questions how architects can design more appropriately for people who are at risk for suicide in the United States. While suicide is individualistic and varies from person to person, there are consistencies that can serve as a basis for mitigating the problem and building an infrastructure for the solution. This thesis begins by examining four key cohorts that are typically high risk in the United States; veterans, the elderly, the homeless, and youths. It examines the behavioral illnesses and treatment programs that are part of the clinical care for these cohorts. It will also explore the neurological connections between these and spatial characteristics and architectural typologies that are effective in mitigating the causes and supporting treatment. The thesis proposes a strategy that includes design criteria responsive to the needs of the community affected by suicide. These design criteria will be implemented in a building proposal using a ‘Mainstreet’ approach where the building’s program is defined by the neighborhood’s demographics and includes a series of neighborhood-scale structures that are integrated into the community. This approach is taken to provide an opportunity for engagement with the broader public. It is believed that this will also assist in destigmatizing mental health treatment, aid in early suicide prevention, and improve the general health and wellness of the community. The site, just north of downtown Denver, was chosen due to factors that include the percentage of the population that is within the cohorts, the fact that Colorado is in the top 10 states for highest suicide rates, has some of the highest population of veterans within the country, and has the 12th highest rate of the homeless population in the United States.

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