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Exclusive: Vita Health gets $23M Series A for suicide intervention

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Suicide intervention startup Vita Health raised $22.5 million in Series A funds, CEO Lynn Hamilton tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: As the mental health epidemic rages on, suicide remains a tragic and thorny problem that few startups are thoroughly tackling.

Details: LFE Capital, Athyrium Capital Management, Flare Capital Partners and CVS Ventures participated in the round.

  • Connecticut Innovations, HopeLab and CU Innovations joined.
  • Hamilton says Vita will use the capital to expand its clinical team and invest in operations and clinical technologies to improve the patient experience.
  • Vita will likely raise a Series B in 2025, she says.

How it works: The New Haven, Connecticut-based telehealth provider partners with providers, payers, and schools to offer services for conditions including suicidality, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and trauma.

  • It employs and trains its licensed clinicians in suicide-specific care and treatment, per Hamilton.
  • Vita's three-month suicide intervention program — based on published research conducted by co-founders — aims to help patients reframe their thoughts around suicide and identify de-escalation tactics, such as turning to what Vita calls a "caring contact" or trusted adult in a moment of crisis.

Zoom in: In a randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry in 2019, researchers including Vita adviser Cheryl King concluded that the use of a caring contact appeared to help reduce future suicides in youths hospitalized following suicide attempts.

Flashback: Before founding Vita, Hamilton was the chief commercial officer at telemental health company Talkspace (Nasdaq: TALK), where she helped the then-DTC-only company build out its enterprise business.

  • The experience "helped me construct novel approaches to reimbursement for asynchronous telemental health," Hamilton recalls.

What they're saying: "There's almost no one I talk to that doesn't have some connection [to suicide], whether it's a second cousin or an immediate family member," says Hamilton.

  • "There's a clinical proven approach to reducing suicide that's not adopted broadly, so we set out to do that using tech."

State of play: Several virtual behavioral health companies such as Talkspace have attracted market and investor attention in recent years.

  • Virtual trauma therapy provider Nema Health last fall collected $4.1 million in seed funding.
  • Author Health last summer booked $115 million to support Medicare Advantage users with various forms of serious mental illness (SMI).
  • Telemental health startup UpLift last fall acquired women-focused online psychiatry provider Minded in an all-stock deal.
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