Felton Institute’s Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) is a survivor-led, postvention program that provides support to those impacted by suicide. Felton’s LOSS team, the first of its kind in the Bay Area, provides support and services for family members and friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. The team, many of whom have been directly impacted by a suicide loss, provide support and care to survivors after a suicide has occurred. Postvention support is vital to addressing the needs of those impacted by suicide loss.
The word “postvention” was coined by Dr. Edwin Shneidman in 1968 at the first conference of the American Association of Suicidology. Dr. Shneidman defined postvention as “interventions to address the care of bereaved survivors, caregivers, and health care providers; to destigmatize the tragedy of suicide and to assist with the recovering process; and to serve as a secondary prevention effort to minimize the risk of subsequent suicides due to complicated grief, contagion, or unresolved trauma.” According to the National Institute of Health, survivors of suicide loss are at a higher risk of experiencing major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal behaviors. LOSS responds to these unique experiences by providing an array of services to support survivors.
LOSS postvention support provides vital resources and linkage to suicide survivors. In addition to individualized responses addressing the needs of those who have recently lost a loved one to suicide, LOSS also provides support groups that include a Youth and Young Adult Support Group (ages 14-25) for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide and an Adult Survivor Support Group, for adults who have made a suicide attempt.
LOSS Program Coordinator Sophia Balestreri, who is a survivor of suicide loss, said of her team, “I often say this is a club, unfortunately, that nobody wants to belong to.” She continued, “We don’t know how each survivor feels, but as a survivor ourselves, we do have a shortcut because some of those experiences are unique and shared at the same time.” This lived experience sends a powerful message to the survivors LOSS that it’s possible to come out on the other side of trauma and grief. And this realization, Ms. Balestreri said, provides an “installation of hope.”
LOSS Program Coordinator Sophia Balestreri on Suicide Loss
Sophia Balestreri shares her story about being a survivor of suicide loss. She talks about her experience of losing a son to suicide and her commitment to supporting others, also impacted by suicide loss. “Once your heart has been broken and it’s cracked open,” Ms. Balestreri explains, “it’s amazing how much compassion that you have for others’ pain and suffering.”
Sophia Balestreri of Felton’s LOSS Spoke to KALW About Suicide Prevention Awareness
Ms. Balestreri spoke to Bay Area radio station KALW about suicide prevention, prevalence, and post-vention resources. She provided insight and invaluable information about suicide awareness. You can listen to the full broadcast on the KALW website; Baletreri speaks during Segment B.
- If you’d like to learn more about Felton Institute’s Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS), you can visit our program page.
- Have you lost someone to suicide? Your experience may help others. Learn about volunteering with Felton Institute’s LOSS Team in Marin County by visiting our program page, reading our Volunteer Brochure, and applying online.
- If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health issues, please contact Felton Institute’s San Francisco Suicide Prevention (SFSP) Crisis Line by Calling (415) 781-0500 or Texting (415) 200-2920. Or you can dial The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988.
Felton Institute responds to the needs of our community by providing innovative, evidence-informed social services to transform lives. Our organization offers 50+ programs that address mental health, the unhoused, early care and education, those impacted by the justice system, transitional age youth, as well as aging adults. Our award-winning programs, which have been recognized as national models, combine the latest scientific research with cultural sensitivity and a deep commitment to supporting and reflecting the communities we serve.
Founded in 1889, Felton is the oldest secular non-profit social services provider in the City and County of San Francisco. We have expanded our services across most Bay Area counties and continue to be at the forefront of pioneering new approaches to meet the emerging needs of underserved populations.
We know what it looks like to successfully build community.
We foster impactful change by strengthening the community as a premiere service provider. We also strengthen other service providers by supporting them in their fiscal, human resources, communications, IT and overall agency operations. With Felton’s support, they are able to focus on providing the best services to their clients, doing the work they were meant to do.
Felton empowers the community and ensures successful outcomes to all we engage with.
Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.