SURVIVING GRIEF: TAPS SEMINAR OFFERS COMFORT FOR HUNDREDS GRIEVING DEATHS OF MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS BY SUICIDE, OCT. 5-7 IN SAN DIEGOMilitary families discover they are not alone in coping with suicide, get peer-based support, specialized workshops
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 1, 2012
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The suicide rate in the military has dominated news headlines recently. For the widows, children, parents, siblings and other loved ones left behind to grieve – their lives must be rebuilt in the shadow of tragedy. Thankfully, they don’t have to do it alone – the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers specialized support services and bereavement care to help.
More than 400 people, including 120 children, who have experienced the death by suicide of a loved one who served in the military will attend the TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp being held October 5-7 in San Diego. It will be the largest gathering ever held specifically for the spouses, children, mothers, fathers, siblings, and loved ones left behind following the suicide of a military service member.
Specialized workshops to help grieving families will be offered by experts in suicidology and postvention. Support groups and time spent at the seminar among others who have experienced a similar loss will let survivors know they are not alone in their pain and grief.
Suicide loss is traumatic and leaves survivors with many lingering and unanswered questions. Suicide survivors are themselves, at an increased risk of post-traumatic stress and to die by suicide themselves. Postvention support for the family members left behind following a suicide is critical.
On average, TAPS intakes 8-10 people per week grieving a death by suicide of a service member. The TAPS community includes more than 3,000 people grieving a death by suicide and these losses represent about 12% of the total TAPS caseload of bereaved military families. It takes on average 5-7 years for people who have experienced the traumatic death of a loved one to reach a “new normal.”
This event is made possible thanks to the generous support of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, SKYDEX and the USO. The Hero Miles program at the Fisher House Foundation assisted with flights for survivors. USO San Diego is assisting with transportation and providing airport greeters.
"At SKYDEX, we believe our military and their families are a national treasure. The increasing suicide rate amongst our military families is tragic and I committed to do all I can to help prevent this horrible loss,” said Mike Buchen, CEO, SKYDEX Technologies. Our troops, and especially their surviving family members, deserve our total support. And we will give it."
“Losing a loved one is the most traumatic experience any family can face. The USO supports TAPS and commends its efforts to comfort and support our nation’s military families with their best in class programs like Survivor Seminars and Good Grief Camps for kids,” said Sloan Gibson, president, USO. “The USO is committed to strengthening the resilience of our military and their families and if there are military families that are despairing for whatever reason, those are people that need us the most. Our mission is to lift the spirits of our troops and their families- especially the families of the fallen.”
MEDIA COVERAGE AVAILABILITY/SCHEDULINGFRIDAY, OCTOBER 5- 1:00pm-5:00pm – Private pre-scheduled interviews with staff, experts and survivors available.- 1:00pm-5:00pm – Peer mentor training equips suicide survivors to reach out to others more newly-bereaved who have experienced a similar loss.
SATURDAY – OCTOBER 6- 9:00am-11:00am – Opening session for the conference welcoming more than 400 suicide survivors for comfort and support. Filming by the news media from the back of the room is permitted.- 11:00am-12:00pm – “Metaphors for Healing,” a presentation by Dr. Frank Campbell, an expert in suicide postvention. Filming by the news media from the back of the room is permitted.- 12:00pm-1:15pm - Private pre-scheduled interviews with staff, experts and survivors available.- 6:30pm-8:30pm – Retired Major General Mark Graham will talk to families about his experience as a bereaved military father. Graham lost his son, Kevin Graham, an ROTC cadet, to suicide in 2003 and a second son, Jeffrey Graham, to combat in Iraq eight months later in 2004. Marine Corps Sergeant Major Brian Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will deliver remarks of compassion and support for the families. Filming of remarks by the news media is permitted.
SUNDAY – OCTOBER 6- 9:00am-10:15am – Memorial remembrance ceremony outdoors with roses for families to remember their loved ones who died by suicide. Available for filming and photography from an overlook. - 12:00pm-1:15pm – Private pre-scheduled interviews with staff, experts and survivors available. - 3:00pm-5:00pm – Phoenix Rising: Personal Growth After Suicide. Hear this engaging suicide survivor panel discussing their experiences. Filming of panel remarks by the news media is permitted.
POTENTIAL STORY ANGLES FOR THIS EVENT- Surviving the Tragedy of Suicide – How do families deal with the death of a loved one who served in the military by suicide? How do they pick up the pieces and move forward in their lives? Talk with families coping with suicide loss and its impact on their lives.- Never Alone: Peer Mentors Offer Companionship – A suicide by a service member can be incredibly isolating for the loved ones left behind. The TAPS peer mentor program matches newly-bereaved survivors with others who have experienced a suicide loss who are trained to companion them through grief’s journey. Hear about the unique bonds these mentoring pairs form and how they help each other.- Preventing Tragedy: Survivors Talk About What Can Make a Difference – After taking time to carefully investigate and reflect on what happened to their loved ones, survivors of suicide can often share insights that help inform prevention efforts and help save other lives. Talk with these families about what they have learned in careful reflection and how they think suicide in the military can be prevented. - The Healing Power of Art in Coping with Suicide – The Rita Project helps survivors of suicide cope through art. Talk with survivors working on art pieces and how art therapy helps them express their feelings.- Raising Children Impacted by Suicide – How do you raise children after experiencing the death of your spouse by suicide? Talk with widows who are now raising children alone, about their concerns for their children, how they cope, and how they are building a future. Grief experts are available to comment.- Dealing with the Death of Your Child by Suicide – For parents who are grieving the death of their adult child who served in the military by suicide, there are lifelong scars. Yet most parents find the strength to carry on, even as they carry these scars. Hear from these resilient people about how they are making meaning from their lives now and what they have learned about enduring tragedy.
MEDIA CONTACT Media seeking to cover the TAPS seminar should RSVP to Ami Neiberger-Miller, 202.588.8277, cell 703.887.4877, email@example.com. Due to the sensitive nature of this event, all media attendance must be scheduled in advance and journalists must be credentialed by TAPS before arriving on-site.
RESOURCES FOR REPORTING ON SUICIDEAll reporters covering this event are strongly urged to read the recommendations for reporting on suicide found at: www.reportingonsuicide.org and to review the recommendations from the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma on reporting about suicide, found at www.dartcenter.org/topic/suicide
ABOUT TAPSThe Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national nonprofit organization providing compassionate care to anyone grieving the death of someone who died while serving in the military. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, seminars and retreats 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. Founded in 1994 out of tragedy by bereaved military families, TAPS has offered support to more than 35,000 family members, caregivers and casualty assistance officers. For more information go to www.taps.org or call toll-free 800.959.TAPS.
Media contact: Ami Neiberger-Miller, Public Affairs Officer, 202.588.8277, cell 703.887.4877, firstname.lastname@example.org
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