Over the past few days, the Omaha area has endured the loss of several people to suicide. Answering a call or receiving a notification about the death of a community member will never be easy- this has become painfully clear. Because of my role at The Kim Foundation, I have spent countless hours researching suicide statistics, trends, common warning signs, prevention techniques, and even the history of suicide. But no book or online resource will ever fully prepare someone for the loss of a loved one to suicide. I have had the opportunity to meet with many family members and friends of those who have died by suicide and in the process have learned so much about the human spirit.
I have learned that losing someone to suicide feels different to every person because each person’s relationship with those who have passed is unique and irreplaceable. Each person will mourn differently and express their grief in their own special way.
I have been told by many survivors that once the dust settles and life gets back to normal (as normal as it could given the circumstances), they feel as though they have two choices. Either, do their best to forget how their loved one died in order to move on and remember the happy memories. Or channel their pain into something productive. This call to help prevent other suicides, or to offer support to others grieving a suicide loss, is how I have been able to meet many of these courageous men and women.
Throughout the past six months, I have been meeting with community groups to educate them about The Metro Area LOSS Team. The Metro Area LOSS (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) Team is a nationally recognized postvention effort to bring immediate support to the families and friends who have recently lost someone to suicide. The team is made up of trained peers who have also lost a loved one by suicide, as well as a clinician. They provide the families with resources, advice on how they coped, and even on occasion helped with making phone calls to friends and family.
While our Metro team is not quite ready to answer these calls just yet, it is painfully clear that this team is very much needed. I wholeheartedly believe that with the support of these amazingly strong and motivated survivors, we will save countless lives, and be able to offer support and understanding to other survivors when they need it most.
For more information on the Metro Area LOSS Team, go to: https://www.thekimfoundation.org/html/The-Metro-Area-LOSS-Team.html
About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank, and YWCA. Since becoming Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation in April 2014, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, the Metro Area LOSS Team, and is helping lead a community-wide health improvement initiative with the Douglas County Health Department called, “Just Reach Out,” which is focused on improving the people’s view on mental and behavioral health treatment.