Excerpted from Suicide Survivors as First Responders: The LOSS Team. Complete text of the article here.
Dr. Edwin Shneidman suggested the concept of “postvention as prevention for the next generation” in the preface
to Al Cain’s publication Survivors of Suicide first published in 1972. That concept of postvention as prevention
has governed my work with suicide survivors since 1986. It has been my personal goal to interrupt the multi-generational
impact of risk that survivors are often reported to have as a legacy of suicide.
Too many survivors would seek support to cope with their loss if they knew help was available. Most referrals for
suicide survivors groups come from physicians or nurses who share the information when the death is pronounced
in a hospital. Unfortunately for many, a hospital is never involved, therefore eliminating a prime referral resource
for survivors. Even when resources are available in communities, the length of time between the death and the survivor
seeking help is too long due partially to the lack of knowledge of the resources by the survivors and by gatekeepers.
I envisioned an active model of postvention made up of a team of trained survivors who would go to the scenes of
suicides to disseminate information about resources and be the installation of hope for the newly bereaved. The
primary goal of the APM is to let suicide survivors know that resources exist as soon as possible following
To accomplish that goal I recruited a team of twelve volunteers in November of 1997 (four staff and
eight suicide survivors). They received survivor visitor training with Iris Bolton (The Link Counseling Center
in Atlanta, Ga.) and then continued to attend monthly training sessions to enhance attending skills and to develop
protocols for going to the scenes of suicides. The group was named the LOSS Team (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors.)
It was after a year of training that the new coroner, Dr. Louis Cataldie invited us to become first responders
to suicides in our parish (county).
In the area we serve, there is a suicide about every eight days. The frequency of suicide quickly provided the
team opportunities to demonstrate our effectiveness at the scenes. The team has now contributed their services
to more than 240 suicides. New members have been trained and the organization is more highly developed than anyone
could have imagined.
Interested parties in other communities have received training related to the active postvention model and each
week others wanting to start a loss team in their communities contact lossteam.com to find out how to get started.
Dr. Edwin Shneidman’s concept of “postvention as prevention” has governed Dr. Frank Campbell’s
work with suicide survivors since 1986. Dr. Campbell envisioned a “LOSS Team”, a team of trained survivors
who would go to the scenes of suicides to disseminate information about resources and be the installation of hope
for the newly bereaved. Read more about LOSS Team here.
Dr. Frank Campbell is the senior consultant for Campbell and Associates Consulting, LLC.
He is the past Executive Director of the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center, Inc., and The Office of Clinical
Research and Consultation. He is certified in Thanatology, and has a private practice in Forensic Suicidology.
Read more about Dr. Campbell’s experience and expertise here...