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New Brown County team helping suicide survivors cope with LOSS

The LOSS team stands for Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:43 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Members of the Brown County Coalition for Suicide Prevention are seeing a slight increase in suicide related deaths over the last three years.

The coalition reports 42 deaths by suicide in 2020, 38 in 2019 and 25 in 2018.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list suicide at the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Pam Cornelius lost her son Alex to suicide nine years ago when he was 15 years old. She had to find her own way of coping with his death.

“It was months after he died by suicide that we heard from anybody in the area about any kind of support groups,” said Cornelius. “I’ve come to the conclusion that he was not able to live in this world.”

It led her on a mission to find a way to help other families like hers and helped form the group Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors or LOSS in Brown County.

“We are a team of survivors and clinicians that go out in pairs to scenes of suicide,” said Kim Sandstrom, LOSS team coordinator.

The team has responded to ten calls in the county since it formed in September 2020, providing resources and compassion to families trying to cope with the sudden death of a loved one.

“A loss to suicide is like no other loss. So, to be able to connect survivors with survivors is such a connection that survivors do need because only survivors understand that grief,” said Sandstrom.

Sandstrom says when there is a death by suicide, family members have a greater risk of also dying by suicide. When a LOSS team steps in, they can provide support in an average of 39 days. Without the team, it could be almost four years before they are provided with the proper resources.

“As a survivor, this is what we need, someone to be there that day would be perfect,” said Cornelius.

Right now the program has about 20 volunteers like Cornelius who are ready to respond at a moment’s notice.

“I had no clue where to go. The sooner you get help the better off you are,” said Cornelius.

Click here for a list of suicide prevention resources.

If you are a suicide survivor and would be interested in joining the team, email lossteambc@gmail.com.

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