We held our first community involvement meeting for the Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team that will be coming to the metro area. Nebraska currently has existing teams in Lincoln, Norfolk, and Kearney. The Kim Foundation is very excited to lead the effort of this crucial program for our area, and are grateful to Region 6 and the many community partners who have come together to help us make this possible.
On Saturday, February 20th, 45 people joined together to learn more about the plans to implement this program in our area. These individuals consisted of suicide survivors, suicide attempt survivors, providers, and individuals interested in playing a more active role in our community’s suicide prevention and postvention efforts.
For those of you not familiar with LOSS, it is a team based model that consists of peer suicide survivors and a clinician. These roles are all filled by volunteers. The teams work closely with law enforcement, and are called out to a home or family when a suicide occurs. They work to assist the family or individual with whatever their needs may be to help them through the suicide of their loved one. This may consist of offering information on support groups, helping them through how to talk about the suicide of their loved one, just listening and illustrating the example that there is hope to get through this tragic situation, and whatever else the individual or family may need in that moment. They also work to follow up with each family or individual, so that the relationship continues and so that the family knows that they aren’t alone as they move forward without their loved one.
These teams exist all over the country, and we are thrilled to have this resource available in our area. We are currently in the process of recruiting team members and clinical members, so if you are interested please call the foundation at 402.891.6911 and we can talk through the details with you. While LOSS is a postvention effort, it is considered a suicide prevention effort as well. Those who experience a suicide are more likely to attempt suicide themselves, and through the outreach of a LOSS Team, the chances can be much less.
Saturday when folks were here to learn more about the effort, so many shared their connection to it and why they were interested in providing this service to others. I was moved by the emotion and openness of so many who have experienced such a painful loss, and by their willingness to use their grief to help others. We are so incredibly grateful to those who joined us on Saturday, and to all of you have helped make this a reality for our community. Watch for more information as we charge ahead with our Metro Area LOSS Team.
Another exciting opportunity coming up is a partnership with Film Streams, BHECN and The Kim Foundation. We are screening the film MOMMY with a panel discussion on March 19th at Film Streams. For more information or to buy your tickets check out Film Stream’s website at http://www.filmstreams.org/filmstreams_calendar.aspx?ID=1467.
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation for three years, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the executive committee of the Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, RESPECT Advisory Committee, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition and the Adolescent Mental Health Coalition. She also serves on the Women’s Fund Circles Board.