What is postvention?

Oxford Dictionary: Postvention is counseling and other social care given after the experience of a traumatic event, especially to those directly affected by a suicide loss.

Wikipedia: Postvention is an intervention conducted after a suicide, largely taking the form of support for the bereaved, who may be at increased risk of suicide themselves. Postvention is a term that was first coined by Shneidman in 1972, which he used to describe “appropriate and helpful acts that come after a dire event.” In Schneidman’s view, “the largest public health problem is neither the prevention of suicide nor the management of suicide attempts, but the alleviation of the effects of stress in the survivors whose lives are forever altered.”[1] Postvention intends to alleviate the effects of this stress and help survivors cope with the loss they have experienced.

This short, 5-minute video will help you better understand why suicide postvention is also suicide prevention

Who is a suicide loss survivor?

A suicide loss survivor is anyone impacted by a death by suicide. This may include family, friends, coworkers, peers, neighbors, and anyone else touched by the loss of someone who has died by suicide.

History of the LOSS Model

The original LOSS team (Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors) was launched in 1998 in Baton Rouge, LA by Dr. Frank Campbell. Dr. Campbell developed the LOSS team model after learning that it took an average of 4.5 years for survivors of suicide loss to reach out for help. During those years many survivors suffered in silence and developed unhealthy coping skills, which made the access to suicide grief support critical. Since then, Dr. Campbell has traveled across the country training others, resulting in the launch of several LOSS teams. The first LOSS team in Ohio was the Logan/Champaign Team. When activated by the Franklin County Coroner’s office, trained LOSS volunteers arrive on scene to connect with the newly bereaved to provide them with resources and support.

Just as importantly, LOSS will help the newly bereaved find hope. From Denise Meine-Graham, LOSS Founder in Columbus, OH: I remember after my son died by suicide a Mom who had survived her son’s suicide 5 years prior came to see me. I remember looking up at her in amazement because she was able to drive  herself to my home. I simply could not imagine doing anything normal – like driving – EVER again. Meeting her provided an instillation of hope I didn’t even realize I needed. At that time no one else could have given that hope to me – just another survivor.

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