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Published on April 03, 2019

Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Teams Help Survivors Cope

The unexpected death of a loved one is an intensely traumatic event for those left behind. When that loss is due to suicide, another level of trauma often sets in. Suicide deaths still carry stigma in our society. Survivors often feel emotions of intense guilt, longing, sadness and hurt.

After a loss to suicide, family members left behind are themselves nine to 12 times more likely to die by suicide and are at a higher risk for experiencing health, relationship and work difficulties.

Bryan Medical Center helped develop Nebraska’s first Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team in Lincoln/Lancaster County in 2009. This volunteer group provides support to individuals in the Lincoln/Lancaster County area as soon as possible after the death of a loved one to suicide.

Responding to families in need

This team has been highly successful in responding to families in need, providing resources and support, and facilitating a healthy grieving and mourning process. Each LOSS Team has several members; for example, a call to the Lincoln team activates three members each time: two people who have survived a loved one’s suicide, plus a mental health practitioner.

Studies have demonstrated the positive impact of active intervention for families in suicide’s aftermath. Research shows that those who do not have contact with a team such as LOSS wait 4.5 years before seeking help, and those who have contact with a group such as LOSS reach out for support within 39 days. To learn more about the impact of a LOSS team watch this short video.

Since the development of the Lincoln/Lancaster LOSS Team, other communities have been assisted in developing teams. These include:

  • Beatrice/Fairbury (Blue River LOSS Team)
  • Chadron
  • Kearney (Central Nebraska LOSS Team)
  • Omaha (Omaha Metro Team)
  • North Platte (Southwest Nebraska LOSS Team)
  • Seward/York/Butler/Polk (Four Corners LOSS Team)
  • Norfolk
  • Columbus

In most cases the teams are activated by law enforcement, but if a family is open to a visit with the LOSS team they can contact the team directly.

For more information regarding LOSS Teams in Nebraska and how to access them, visit: www.nelossteam.nebraska.edu

Additional information about suicide prevention can be found here.

If you know someone in immediate crisis, call 911 or call the National Suicide Helpline at 1-800-273-8255.

dave miers

About Dr. Dave Miers

Dave Miers, PhD, is the counseling and program development manager for mental health services at Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb.

He helped establish the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition in 1999 and chaired/co-chaired this Coalition until 2017. He currently serves as the past co-chair. Dr. Miers is a member of the leadership group for the Lincoln/Lancaster County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Dr. Miers has published research and co-authored a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Suicide Research focusing on family survivors of a child suicide. Dr. Miers helped develop the Lincoln Lancaster Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team in Lincoln, Neb. He also helped develop other LOSS teams in Nebraska and is active with LOSS team development on a national level.

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