Suicide Prevention Experts Available for Interview

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month


ARLINGTON, Va. – Experts know that on average each time a suicide occurs, 135 lives will be affected.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide Prevention Week will be observed Sept. 9-15.

In light of several high-profile suicides this year, including those of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is working with its partners at the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and other experts to educate the public on how to help those at risk.

In recent years, TAPS has developed a robust suicide prevention and postvention program caring for more than 10,000 surviving military family members who lost a loved one to suicide.

TAPS Suicide Prevention Team experts, Kim Ruocco and Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton (both also suicide loss survivors) and Dr. Shauna Springer are available for interviews and can support any Suicide Prevention Awareness Month coverage you are working on.

Among topics to confront the suicide epidemic, they can provide subject matter expertise on:

  • The status of prevention efforts in the military,
  • How working with the military and veteran population is informing the TAPS team work and prevention efforts in the civilian population,
  • The groundbreaking TAPS Postvention Model, widely recognized as a highly successful, empirical method of support, and
  • The increased risk of suicide among those who have lost someone to suicide.

Additionally, we can provide surviving family members who have experienced suicide loss and can talk about what signs they recognized vs. what they learned afterwards, how to connect loved ones to care, etc.

The number one concern identified by members of the public is that they don’t know what to do to help someone at risk of suicide. Our team is available to raise awareness by providing concrete ways to help and the realization that there is hope. Suicide can be prevented and treatment is proved to work.


  • Kim Ruocco is an active contributor to suicide prevention efforts in civilian as well as military organizations. She serves as the co-lead on the National Action Alliance Task Force for Military and Veterans, is a member of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center steering committee and has testified before the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs.  Ruocco is an international speaker who uses her education, personal experience and information gathered from thousands of service members and bereaved military families to help others more fully understand suicide. Through her work with TAPS, Ruocco has developed comprehensive, peer-based programs that offer comfort and care to all those grieving the loss of a service member to suicide. She holds a B.A. in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston University. She is the surviving widow of Marine Corps Maj. John Ruocco, who died by suicide in 2005.
  • Shauna Springer, Ph.D., is a former VA psychologist with particular expertise in trauma recovery, innovative suicide prevention approaches, relationship counseling, peer support program development, and Veteran’s issues, including post-discharge adjustment and strategies for engaging Veterans in behavioral health care. Dr. Springer is a licensed psychologist with an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a Doctoral degree from the University of Florida. She draws from a unique combination of professional expertise and survivors’ “lived experience” to shine new light on the critical questions that have challenged military leaders and veteran organizations for decades.
  • Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton is a subject matter expert concerning issues of surrounding grief, trauma, and suicide; she presents on the topic and consults with civilian providers and military leaders in providing effective outreach and clinical care to military personnel, veterans, and military families.  She is trained in suicide first aide through ASIST, as well as Psychological Autopsy Investigations through the American Association for Suicidology.  Dr. Stumpf-Patton earned a B.S. in Psychology, a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Guidance Counseling, and a Doctorate of Education in Counseling Psychology where she completed her dissertation research on military families bereaved by suicide. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Thanatologist, National Certified Counselor, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Florida Qualified Supervisor, and counseling educator in higher academia. Dr. Stumpf Patton is the surviving spouse of Marine Corps Drill Instructor Sgt. Richard Stumpf, a Gulf War Veteran who died by suicide in 1994, several days before their only child was born.


The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the national organization providing compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen military heroes and has offered support to more than 80,000 surviving family members of our fallen military and their caregivers since 1994. TAPS provides peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups 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 or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 1.800.959.TAPS (8277).


To request an interview with a TAPS suicide prevention expert or surviving family member, please email Rita Barry-Corke at or Christine Fuentes at; or call (202) 588-TAPS (8277) to speak with someone on the media relations team.


TAPS previously hosted a webinar, "Reporting and Messaging on Suicide in the Military," that helps both journalists and those in the military service community talk about suicide using safe messaging. The webinar can now be accessed by clicking here. In addition, Safe Messaging Guidelines can be accessed at