A Four-Part Plan to Support Survivors of Trauma
For more than 10 years, TAPS has comforted and cared for more than 11,500 surviving family members who have lost a military loved one to suicide. Each day, an average of three to four new survivors of suicide loss in the pain of grief come to us, and we welcome them with the warm embrace that can only come from those who truly understand their journey.
Over the years, TAPS has developed programming and resources to address the unique needs of suicide loss survivors. We offer seminars, webinars and other events that help survivors work through the complicated emotions and circumstances that come with a suicide loss. We have assembled experts in the field of suicidology, some of whom are suicide loss survivors themselves, who help guide our work and train other organizations on how to care for those grieving a suicide death in the family, school, health care organization, community setting or military unit.
The TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention Team draws from a unique combination of professional expertise and survivor experience to shine light on the critical issues that arise after a suicide. This team provides training and consultation to clinicians, military leadership, policymakers, health care organizations, veteran employers and groups of veterans and their families.
Shauna Springer, Ph.D., is the senior director of TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention initiatives. She comes to TAPS after many years as a frontline psychologist at a Department of Veterans Affairs behavioral health clinic. She has particular expertise in trauma recovery, innovative suicide prevention approaches, peer support program development and veteran’s issues, including making a successful transition after the military.
Last month, two teen survivors of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, died by suicide. Within days, a father who lost his child in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut took his own life. Reflecting on these tragic suicide deaths, Dr. Springer and her colleagues were compelled to intervene to help break the cyclical, destructive nature of trauma, especially trauma that is shared by the community. While no one can know the pain these survivors were in before their suicides, we do know that there is hope and that we are not alone in our collective grief.
Over the next four days, Dr. Springer will share four pillars developed by the TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention team for building a strong plan of support for trauma survivors. These four—proactive, comprehensive, ongoing and well-informed—pillars are the building blocks of a caring, sustainable plan to support survivors through trauma to a place where hope, healing and, eventually, growth can take place.
In tomorrow’s post, Dr. Springer writes about the need for a plan of support to be preemptive. Survivors will benefit from a proactive approach that does not wait for them to “opt in” to get support.