- We address the breakup (splitting) of multisoliton solutions of the nonlinear Schr\"odinger equation (NLSE), occurring due to linear loss. Two different approaches are used for the study of the splitting process. The first one is based on the direct numerical solution of the linearly damped NLSE and the subsequent analysis of the eigenvalue drift for the associated Zakharov-Shabat spectral problem. The second one involves the multisoliton adiabatic perturbation theory applied for studying the evolution of the solution parameters, with the linear loss taken as a small perturbation. We demonstrate that in the case of strong nonadiabatic loss the evolution of the Zakharov-Shabat eigenvalues can be quite nontrivial. We also demonstrate that the multisoliton breakup can be correctly described within the framework of the adiabatic perturbation theory and can take place even due to small linear loss. Eventually we elucidate the occurrence of the splitting and its dependence on the phase mismatch between the solitons forming a two-soliton bound state.