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Suicide loss: New suicide support team

A Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors team is being started through the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health and Hinds Hospice.

FRESNO – The Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health is coordinating with Hinds Hospice to create a Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team. The LOSS Team came about through the Suicide Prevention Plan developed by the Fresno County Suicide Prevention Collaborative.

LOSS is a team comprising of both a clinician as well as a suicide-loss survivor that responds to the scene of a suicide such as a home, hospital or any location within a community, to offer support and resources to a newly bereaved family.

The overall purpose is three-fold:

1) To instill hope to the family that they will make it through this tragedy

2) To be a lighthouse, shining their beacon toward local support and resources available to the family immediately

3) Given that this demographic is a high-risk population, post-vention is the best prevention

Once a first responder classifies the cause of death as a suicide, the LOSS Team will be dispatched. The LOSS Team will have on-call staff available 24/7 who will assemble the team to arrive on-scene within one hour of the call. This is known as an active response. If, for some reason, an active response is not feasible, such as the family is not present on the scene or the scene is deemed unsafe, a delayed response will be offered. The delayed response will accommodate the needs of the family. Multiple visits can be provided for different family members or a workplace debriefing.

Importance

Studies indicate that a suicide-loss survivor is four times more likely to die by suicide themselves. This is an extremely high at-risk population. The average survivor take approximately 4.5 years after the suicide to access any type of support services whether it be therapy, support groups, or grief-related event. With a LOSS Team in place, that time-span drops from 4.5 years to just 39 days. Suicide post-vention is the best suicide prevention.

All supports are in place for anyone in our county who has lost a loved one to suicide, regardless of the location of where the suicide took place. The LOSS Team can also be deployed to death notification visits with the Coroner or chaplain to families when suicides occur out-of-county to offer that same immediate support.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com.

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