According to KDLG and KUNM, reporter Hannah Colton died last week. She was 29. The reports of her passing suggest the cause was suicide.
“KDLG is heartbroken by her passing. Colton came to Dillingham in 2015. She dedicated a year of service as a journalist to the people of Bristol Bay, lifting their voices with compassion and going to bat for the concerns of this community. Colton constantly pursued the truth, and she will be deeply missed,” the Dillingham public radio station reported.
Colton’s stories appeared frequently in the Anchorage Daily News during the year she lived in Alaska. She wrote about Katmai bears, fishing, hydro power at Chignik Lagoon, and the Pebble Project.
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Colton accepted a job as the education reporter and news director at KUNM, a public radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
There, she had been a champion for social justice.
“She was passionate about equity and racial justice. She fought those fights in the field, in news content and on behalf of her staff,” KUNM wrote.
“Hannah loved being a reporter. She was a gifted storyteller. She was great at meeting people and talking with them, asking good questions and really listening to the answers.
“She well-understood the urgency of this moment, and she gave it her whole heart, working around the clock to cover equity and education, the dangers of the virus for people who are incarcerated, protests and the pandemic’s impacts on people without shelter,” the station wrote.
Colton was said to have suffered from depression.
She recently wrote, “The older I get and more work I do, the more convinced I am that most or all of us are traumatized to some degree by this messed up, unjust, patriarchal, white supremacist society. Healing is possible, but we cannot heal alone. And that’s why I love making pieces about mental health. Especially when I get to speak with compassionate, expert elders.”
Of her passing, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall wrote, “Heartbroken to learn of the loss of Hannah Colton of @KUNMnews. Hannah was an incredible person dedicated to independent, thoughtful reporting. This is a devastating loss for the journalism community in New Mexico. Jill and I extend our deepest condolences to Hannah’s loved ones.”