When a loved one commits suicide, what you might need most is someone to listen.
Sometimes, you might need more.
That is why Tarrant County’s LOSS Team is available 24/7, ready to help anyone affected by suicide.
The Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Team started in 2011 and was the first and only one in Texas until 2016. Now four LOSS teams operate in the state.
They work with law enforcement, medical examiners and local organizations like Mental Health America of Greater Tarrant County to reach out to people affected by suicide.
In a county without a LOSS Team, it can take up to 4 1/2 years for someone to receive any kind of support, LOSS Team coordinator Christine Smith told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board. In county with a LOSS Team, it takes an average of 35 days.
Closing that gap is crucial.
Research has shown a higher rate of suicide in families of suicide victims. Tackling the heartbreaking and often confusing circumstances surrounding suicides can be especially rough.
“There is a complicated grief that comes with suicide,” Smith said.
In Tarrant County, more people die by suicide than in homicides or vehicle accidents. The medical examiner’s office reported 351 suicides in 2015, along with 228 deaths in vehicle accidents and 124 homicides.
Suicide ranks 10th in leading causes of death in the United States.
In 2015, the LOSS Team reached out to almost 200 individuals. So far this year, the number already is close to 100.
“You can hear in their voice how much a difference it has made,” Smith said.
The organization helps by sending a licensed or accredited mental health professional and a “survivor,” someone who was once affected by the suicide of a loved one.
The volunteers provide support but also refer the bereaved to support groups or to a staff counselor, depending on the case. They can even help with finding a forensic cleaner.
And they follow up with individuals for years if needed, Smith said.
For those affected by suicide, you’re not alone.
Get in touch with the LOSS Team
ICare Crisis Line: 817-335-3022