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Denton County LOSS Team lends a life-saving hand to suicide survivors

Denton County LOSS Team lends a life-saving hand to suicide survivors

Landon Dickeson, the coordinator of the Denton County Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team is accompanied by Christie Carney and Chuck Bird, LOSS survivors and mental health professionals, at the Denton Square on Wednesday September 20. LOSS provides immediate support on scene and resources to individuals in Denton County affected my suicide. Sarah Schriener

Denton County LOSS Team lends a life-saving hand to suicide survivors
September 22
17:31 2017

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that over 44,000 people in the U.S. commit suicide each year. The number of people whose lives have been affected by a loved one committing suicide is incalculable.

The Denton County Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team provides help for anyone grieving the loss of friends or family members to suicide.

LOSS was established in Denton in 2015. The first LOSS team was created by Frank Campbell in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1998. Since then, LOSS teams have developed all over America and internationally in communities from Ireland to Singapore.

“We would love to see a LOSS team in every community, as well as continued growth for those already functioning,” said Landon Dickeson, Denton LOSS team coordinator.

A main goal of the LOSS team is to prevent intergenerational suicides by constantly checking on those who have lost someone to suicide and making sure those people are not experiencing self-damaging feelings.

“Our team consistently checks in on suicidal and self-harm thoughts among the survivors we interact with and provides referrals to the local crisis line and counseling options in the area,” Dickeson said. “We also send out free packets that include two books on grieving the loss of a loved one by suicide and a resource guide that includes online resources.”

The Denton LOSS team is partnered with local organizations such as Touched by Suicide support groups to provide the best resources for survivors. These organizations make it clear to those affected that they do not have to mourn alone.

LaNelia Ramette, president of Touched by Suicide and a member of LOSS team, experienced such help firsthand when she lost her own son to suicide in 2010.

“As a part of my grief journey, I attended a local Touched by Suicide support group,” Ramette said.  “Although family and friends were very supportive, I found the support groups to be impactful because I was surrounded by individuals who also experienced a loss of a loved one to suicide.”

Both Touched by Suicide and LOSS follow the same philosophy when helping someone who lost a loved one to suicide, which includes that no one is alone, and they fully support anyone who needs their service.

“Our Touched by Suicide support groups are an invaluable referral service for the LOSS team,” Ramette said. “We want the families to know that they are not alone and want to provide them the support they need as they learn to live their new life without their loved one.”

Ramette and Dickeson agree that what makes their method of help so special is the interaction they have with those who need their help.

The change they cause in people experiencing grief occurs through their technique of “postvention.”

“We follow the active postvention model, thereby integrating prevention and intervention services in the aftermath of a death by suicide,” Dickeson said. “We visit with families both on scene and at other times as defined by the survivor’s request, and we also follow up with phone calls throughout the first year.”

LOSS volunteer Laura Garrett joined the team after receiving their support earlier this year. After losing two friends to suicide, the LOSS team greatly assisted her in her time of need.

“LOSS helped me when my friend committed suicide a few months ago and when my roommate’s sister committed suicide a few weeks before that,” Garrett said. “They offer such compassionate care to those in need.”

LOSS holds several fundraising events throughout the year to raise money for their organization and increase suicide awareness. Their most popular event is their Race for Hope, which has been held for five consecutive years.

This year’s Race for Hope, which was held on Sept. 9 in recognition of suicide prevention month, included a five-mile race and a one-mile walk.

The event raised over $23,000.

“We wish for our fundraising events to function not only as an opportunity to donate, but also as an opportunity to raise awareness about suicide in our community and the mental health services available,” Dickeson said. “Moreover, it is our hope that these events are felt as a celebration of life which honors those we have lost.”

Dickeson’s main message he wants to send to the community is that the LOSS team is all about hope. Nobody must go through such a difficult time on their own, and there are people who want to help.

“Grief is a burden, [but] people are not,” Dickeson said. “It is only when we share the burden of grief with willing others that we find our load more bearable.”

Featured Image: Landon Dickeson, the coordinator of the Denton County Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) team, is accompanied by Christie Carney and Chuck Bird, LOSS survivors and mental health professionals, at the Square on Wednesday, Sept. 20. LOSS provides immediate support on scene and resources to individuals in Denton County affected my suicide. Sarah Schriener

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Ashlee Winters

Ashlee Winters

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1 Comment

  1. Warren
    Warren September 25, 18:58

    We work with Landon and his team and they are fabulous. They do a great job with the families they support. Keep it up Loss Team

    Reply to this comment

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