SUICIDE IN THE MILITARY: FAMILIES LEFT BEHIND SPEAK OUT, INFORM PREVENTION EFFORTSPanel of suicide survivors address Fourth Annual DoD/VA Conference on Suicide Prevention
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 20, 2012
WASHINGTON – Six people left behind by a loved one who died by suicide who are involved with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), will be speaking on a family panel at the Fourth Annual Department of Defense/VA Suicide Prevention Conference on Thursday, June 21, 2:15pm-3:15pm at the Renaissance Washington, 999 9th Street, Grand Ballroom.
The death of a service member or veteran by suicide is devastating to the families left behind. The surge in troop suicides this year has recently drawn headlines, with the Associated Press reporting that in the first 155 days of 2012, there were 154 suicides. Often surviving family members grieving a death by suicide can share information that supports prevention and education.
TAPS intakes on average eight to ten people per week grieving a death by suicide of a service member or veteran. Approximately 3,000 people impacted by suicide losses among service members and veterans are involved with TAPS. The family members speaking on Thursday’s panel are:
Benjamin Harris (Decatur, Ga.) – surviving brother of Marine Lance Corporal Michael Harris, who died in February 2012 while attached to Camp LeJeune.
Don Lipstein (West Chester, Pa.) – surviving father of Navy Master at Arms 2 Joshua Lipstein, who died in March 2011 following his second deployment to Iraq. He was among the first to volunteer for duty as a “Riverine” patrolling the waterways in Iraq.
Leslie McCaddon (Rockport, Mass.) – surviving widow of Army Captain Michael McCaddon, a medical doctor who died on March 21, 2012. He was attached to Tripler Army Medical Center. His wife says he was killed by the heavy stress military service can bring - and a tough-guy military culture that discourages service members from seeking help for mental health issues.
Rebecca Morrison (Copper Cove, Texas) – surviving widow of Army Captain Ian Morrison, who died on March 21, 2012 (the same day as Leslie McCaddon’s husband). He had recently returned from a deployment to Iraq, was attached to Fort Hood and was a 2007 West Point graduate.
Petra Patterson (Hughesville, Md.) – surviving mother of Army Sergeant Sean Greany, who died in February 2012. He was a Purple Heart recipient from his service in Afghanistan, was attached to Fort Belvoir and had served with the Army National Guard.
Kim Ruocco (Newburyport, Mass.), panel moderator – surviving widow of Marine Major John Ruocco, who died in 2005 while preparing for his second Iraq deployment as a Cobra helicopter pilot. As director of suicide postvention programs at TAPS, Ruocco manages programs that help thousands of people grieving a death by suicide of a service member.
Survivors find support services at TAPS including: peer mentoring with others who have experienced a similar type of loss, grief and trauma resources, connections to community-based care, regional grief seminars for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, a 24/7 resource and information helpline and casualty casework assistance. TAPS will hold its fourth annual National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp in October 2012 in San Diego, Calif.As the national nonprofit organization offering comfort and care to anyone grieving the death of someone who served in the military, TAPS has welcomed suicide survivors since its founding in 1994, alongside families grieving service member deaths to combat, accident, sudden illness, terrorist attack, or other means of death.
Media Requests for InterviewsThe conference organizers are permitting the news media to film the family panel discussion. News media attending the conference need to request credentials from Jennifer Harrington, 703-604-5643, firstname.lastname@example.org. News media seeking to speak one-on-one with survivors after the panel discussion will need to contact Ami Neiberger-Miller, 202.588.8277, cell 703.887.4877, email@example.com to make scheduling arrangements. Media who are not able to be present should be able to view the panel presentation online through the conference website at: http://suicideprevention.sessionupload.com/
The conference website with a full agenda for the June 20-22 conference is: http://www.dcoe.health.mil/Training/SuicidePreventionConference.aspx
Recommendations for reporting on suicide: http://reportingonsuicide.org/
About TAPSThe Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivor (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 35,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, seminars for adults, good grief camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces. Services are provided free of charge. For more information go to www.taps.org or call 800.959.TAPS (8277).
Media contact for TAPS: Ami Neiberger-Miller, Public Affairs Officer, 202.588.8277, firstname.lastname@example.org
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