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Cardinal Initiative aims to lead NW Kansas to improved mental health

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new mental healthcare service is trying to lead northwest Kansas to better mental health. The Cardinal Initiative, a fledgling organization aiming for nonprofit status, is focused on making a difference for a community impacted by suicides, working to provide mental health services to rural Kansans.

In Rawlins County, mental health concerns have heightened due to an abnormal suicide rate.

“Since the beginning of 2020, there have been at least, approximately eight suicides in the county itself or by people who are from the county, and it has been an outcry for a while,” said Cardinal Initiative Director Payton Beims.

Rawlins County only has about 2,500 people.

Beims said he knows people who’ve died by suicide. It’s personal for him.

“…I knew them personally. Be it in passing or if I had actual relationships or acquaintances with them, I have always felt a bit of guilt,” he said.

Atwood resident Steve Chessmore said he’s dealt with a mental health crisis and had he had access to the resource now available with the Cardinal Initiative, he would have used it.

“There is people out there that you can talk to. I for one had issues way back when through my divorces and everything, and I kind of stayed to myself,” Chessmore said.

He said he lost a friend to suicide, someone he said he had no idea was going through a difficult time. Chessmore described his friend as appearing to be happy-go-lucky.

“…If they don’t talk about it, then how do you know?” he said.

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