XENIA — Plans are in the works for a local team that would help individuals dealing with the immediate aftermath of a family member’s suicide. The team would operate using the “Local Outreach to Suicide Survivor” (LOSS) Team model, a technique that has been used throughout the country and the state of Ohio.
In the LOSS Team model, a three-member group responds to the scene of a possible suicide and speaks with family members, providing them with support and resources, such as information about support groups, funeral homes, as well as other practical reminders, according to Dr. Greta Mayer, one of the group’s founding members.
Group members would be, “just talking with them and reminding them basic things like: remembering to drink and eat, and whatever they’re feeling, it’s OK, they don’t need to make decisions right now and just to know that there’s someone to help support them,” Mayer said.
Teams are made up of community volunteers, including other survivors of suicide, members of the medical, mental health, law enforcement and faith communities, as well as other individuals.
“I think the main thing is getting them that immediate … support of showing up and so that they know that they’re not alone,” Mayer said. “The greatest part of the team by having survivors on it, they can provide that hope to them that they can get through this. There is life to be lived after losing a loved one so tragically like that.”
The LOSS model was first developed in Louisiana by Dr. Frank Campbell, an expert on suicidology, in the late 1990s. Through his implementation of the first group, Campbell found that survivors who received the immediate help provided by the response team sought support an average of 39 days after the death, as compared to those who were served by a passive response model, who sought assistance an average of 4.5 years later.
According to Greene County Coroner’s Office numbers, an average of 18 Greene County residents die by suicide each year. In 2015, 22 Greene County residents have died by suicide, according to Mayer.