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KVC Health Systems

Hope and Healing: How KVC is Working to End Suicide

Tragically, around 50,000 people die by suicide in the United States each year. But even more shocking is the rate at which suicide has increased over the past decade. Suicide does not discriminate, but certain groups — including African American youth, female youth and older adults — have shown extreme increases in suicide over this short time. Among some groups, the increase is nearly 60% since 2011. 

This increase is alarming. And it raises big questions. Why is this happening? Will this increase continue? And, most importantly, what can we do to prevent and end suicide? Here at KVC, we know we all need connection. And that drives our dedication to stopping suicide in its tracks. Take a look at our suicide prevention efforts, and explore how our work at KVC is making an impact.

What’s Driving the Current Suicide Crisis in the United States

Headshot of Chad Anderson, Chief Clinical Officer of KVC Health Systems

Chad Anderson, Chief Clinical Officer of KVC Health Systems

For those who aren’t struggling, it can be hard to comprehend the kind of pain that would bring someone to consider suicide. Chad Anderson, Chief Clinical Officer with KVC Health Systems, explains suicide this way: “Suicide is an avoidance of current and future pain,” he explains. 

It’s important to remember that behind every statistic is a story, and everyone’s experience is different. But while each person has unique, personal reasons for considering suicide, a number of factors are driving today’s current crisis and bringing people to the point of hopelessness. 

teen and mom on couch talking.

Anderson points to two key factors in suicide risk: proximity and connection. And the intersection of those two tells us a lot about the suicide crisis.


First, proximity relates to the nearness of a place, time or relationship. Particularly for those in rural locations, access to physical and mental healthcare is limited and physical closeness to others is limited. Isolation and loneliness increase suicide risk.

“Just like our country has a Bible Belt, it also seems to have a suicide belt,” Anderson explains. “And through researching the national heat map of suicide cases, we see this area focused generally West of the Rocky Mountains but is now expanding to other areas, like Kansas and Missouri.” 


Then there’s connection — or in this case, disconnection. Technology and social media have impacted the way we relate to others, and the loss of close connections can most definitely still be felt post-pandemic, indicated by the current epidemic of loneliness the U.S. is experiencing, Anderson explains.

You might be surprised to learn which times of the year have a higher risk for suicide. While we might imagine that the drearier winter months are more likely, that’s not the case.

family having dinner

“May, June and July are the most likely months for suicide,” Anderson explains. “Connectivity plays a major role in the prevention of suicide, and when people gather for the holidays or for visits, there are more opportunities for connection. However, the spring and summer months have a slump in terms of access and interaction. That makes feelings of loneliness and isolation more likely to occur.” 

Other drivers for the upward suicide trend include, but are not limited to:

  • Hindered access to physical and mental healthcare, with approximately one in five adults experiencing financial or non-financial barriers to care
  • Increased reliance on technology/social media
  • Perfectionism and increased societal pressure for achievement
  • The rise in opioids for pain management

Mental Health Care at KVC

Access to timely, individualized care plays a huge role in mental health crises and suicide prevention. That’s why KVC offers a spectrum of care to meet the individualized needs of the communities we serve. This can include in-home therapy, outpatient therapy, Teletherapy, residential treatment, and inpatient hospital treatment.

When clients are in need of intensive and expert care, they may be admitted to Camber Children’s Mental Health (a subsidiary of KVC Health Systems) to receive in-patient hospital or residential treatment. Camber serves thousands of children and adolescents who struggle with depression, anxiety, substance use, suicidal thoughts, and other psychiatric crises. Our mission and values are focused on providing children with access to high-quality mental health services as soon as they need them. Check out the video below to get a special look at Camber and how we’re providing young people with the tools they need to achieve mental wellness.


KVC is Laying the Foundation for Evidence-Based Clinical Practices

More research, training and treatment options are available today, thanks to the dedication of organizations like KVC. For the last five to ten years, KVC has built a positive and successful approach to treating suicidality. “Suicide must be targeted in its treatment and very specific modalities are needed for prevention,” Anderson explains. KVC is doing just that — using a specialty approach to care, understanding specific suicide drivers and providing trained professionals to promote the best possible outcomes.

When developing clinical best practices, KVC reviewed and evaluated multiple modalities then identified those that were most appropriate for our organization’s goals. “I have made it my life’s work to ensure KVC has the best of the best in its toolkit for mental health care,” Anderson says. 

Our key efforts and framework include:

Risk Assessment

KVC uses the CSSR-S (Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale), the gold standard of risk assessments for suicide prevention. The CSSR-S helps identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, determine the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that the person needs.

Safety Plan 

The Stanley Brown Safety Plan was chosen as the best fit for KVC because the research is evidence-based, well documented and it is highly accessible since there is a phone app available. App users can create a suicide safety plan so if suicidal thoughts arise, there’s a clear path to diminish risk and move forward safely. Hotlines and immediate support are also available through the app.

Treatment Process

Camber TeamKVC is taking steps to ensure their clinicians receive training in the CAMS (Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide) Process. CAMS is a well-researched and evidence-based suicide prevention program. Clinicians can utilize this targeted knowledge in their practice. Each training requires informational book and video training, practical hands-on role-playing and consultation calls. Currently, 26 clinicians are working through their training as KVC is piloting the CAMS approach, and afterward, the goal is to expand this program to the other 500 KVC clinicians. 


Care After Discharge

The week following inpatient hospitalization is the most critical period for suicide risk. That’s why our team performs “Care Calls”, in which we prepare our clients for a continuation of care after hospitalization. We remind our customers of the importance of scheduling outpatient services, utilizing the safety plan, and ensuring the client is compliant with medication. These calls create another way to connect to each client, they send a message that those around them care for them and support them.

Get Involved

“KVC has a belief that every interaction is an intervention and everyone is an interventionist,” Anderson says. With this in mind, each one of us has the opportunity to positively impact another person’s mental health by the way we interact, and quite possibly save a life. 


teens in group therapyAs a society, we’re starting to embrace the importance of mental health. But a stigma still remains. As mental health organizations work to improve access to mental healthcare, individuals can take steps to care for their own mental health and encourage others to do the same. Parents and caregivers can help build awareness of mental health through simple conversations with their children. Click here for a list of additional helpful resources.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t wait to get help. You can call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat live at If you’re in Kansas or Missouri, you can also call Camber Children’s Mental Health at (913) 890-7468 to find children’s mental health treatment near you.

KVC Health Systems has decades of experience serving children, young people and adults at risk of suicide, and has provided life-saving treatment to thousands of people. Donations allow KVC to maintain cutting-edge services and increase the mental wellness in the community. If you’d like to directly support the work we do and help end suicide, donate now!

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