Based on his years of working with those bereaved by suicide, in 1997 Doctor Doctor Frank Campbell created what he calls the “LOSSteam” approach to counseling survivors. “LOSS” stands for “Local Outreach to Survivors of Suicide.” He outlined his methods at the recent Missouri “Show Me You Care About Suicide Prevention” Conference.

Using what he calls “active postvention,” teams go the scenes of suicides and meet with those left behind to help them get started in the process of coping. 

Doctor Campbell says the average time that it takes a person to reach at point at which they are ready to move on after being touched by suicide is three years. Some may take as little as a year for such healing, but Campbell says 20 years is not an unusual time for someone to begin talking about their loss.

Often, Campbell says LOSS teams include someone who has experienced a similar type of loss. Victims generally appreciate having someone to talk to who has gone through a similar experience. At the age of 12, Campbell himself had a best friend who committed suicide.

Doctor Campbell says the stigma attached to suicide remains strong. He says it is the only form of death for which a family may forget a person’s entire life over how he or she died. Loved ones would often rather think that a person died from anything other than suicide.

The key to healing for survivors is a quick response. Campbell says the earlier someone is approached about getting help, the earlier they begin the recovery process. That is one of the tenants of his LOSS approach, which is being copied internationally.

Learn more about the LOSSteams here.