The Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL) group evolved from a Traumatic Death support group started in February, 1981, by the Grief Center of Episcopal Community Services. As a result of apparent need, a group specially oriented to suicide deaths was established in March of the same year. By January 1982, the number of survivors had increased to the extent that an additional monthly meeting was added in order to enhance the support and intimacy that is so important to our groups. As attendance and public interest increased, SOSL became involved in sensitizing members of the community directly related to the special needs of persons surviving the death of a loved one by suicide. This included police, first responders, coroners, clergy, counselors, and funeral directors, among others.
A newsletter was created in 1983 along with a helpline in 1984. The helpline is for survivors (619-482-0297) and is still maintained to date. Through our website that was created in 2000, SOSL can now reach survivors around the world.
Since 2007, Survivors of Suicide Loss has been holding our annual walk, now known as the Walk in Remembrance with Hope in Balboa Park. Along with our partner Directing Change, we create an event that brings hope and encouragement to our survivor community. As the signature suicide prevention event in San Diego, it connects survivors to our welcoming community even in the midst of their tragic loss.
The first annual San Diego SOSL Day was held in 2008 to provide a forum for survivors to meet in groups according to loss with small, facilitated groups. This event continues to be a highlight for many as they have an opportunity to share with others who have experienced a loss of the same type of relationship.
Suicide prevention is also an important aspect of SOSL as we are passionate about sparing others the devastating grief we have experienced. Among other prevention activities, SOSL is a member of the San Diego County Suicide Prevention Council (SPC). SPC is made up of representatives from over 40 organizations and agencies working together to implement the San Diego Action Plan for suicide prevention. SPC now recognizes the postvention services that SOSL provides to be an integral element for the San Diego Suicide Prevention Action Plan.
Currently, SOSL is earnestly involved in educating the community about suicide and its effect on surviving family and friends ‐ providing information about grief‐related services. From its inception, the SOSL group goal has been to provide a relaxed, caring environment of mutual support and understanding in which to give comfort and help to one another ‐ a place to regain our sense of hope for future happiness.
By Allison Sampite
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