TAPS 10th Annual Gathering of Military Suicide Loss Survivors

VA Report Released Last Week Highlights Continued Need for Suicide Prevention Efforts Among the Veteran Population


ARLINGTON, Va. – The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) will welcome surviving parents, spouses, children, siblings and others grieving the death of a military loved one to its tenth annual TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp on Oct. 5-8 at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

The annual event will focus on providing support and resources to surviving families as they find hope connecting with fellow suicide loss survivors and sharing their personal stories of loss. This year’s seminar will also feature a Saturday evening TED-style talk with Kevin Hines, who survived a suicide attempt after jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He now speaks publicly to create a bridge of hope for people caught in the pain of difficult life circumstances.

In addition, a Sunday morning session will feature a panel discussion with faith leaders from six religious traditions. The panel is entitled, “"Real Talk About Religious Responses to Suicide."

This year’s seminar marks the 10th anniversary of the event, which highlights a groundbreaking program that came into existence as a result of increased suicide rates in the military and veteran population that began a decade ago. With more than 10,000 suicide loss survivors in its care, TAPS has developed suicide prevention and postvention best practices which are proactively shared with military and veteran community organizations and beyond in the civilian population.

Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a new report indicating that military suicide rates have decreased for every group except young veterans ages 18-34, many of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most recent data for the State of Florida shows rates among Florida veterans are not significantly different from the national veteran average, although it is higher than the national suicide rate, after accounting for age differences.

This year’s seminar will host nearly 1,000 adults and children, military mentors and professionals in the field of suicidology. For children, the seminar will include a TAPS Good Grief Camp, where children grieving the death of a parent or sibling who served in the Armed Forces will learn coping strategies and meet others who have experienced a similar loss. During the camp, the children will be paired one-on-one with military mentors who are TAPS-trained military Service Members, Guardsmen, Reservists or recently separated veterans who provide companionship to the young survivors and help to keep them connected to the military community.


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, casework 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 www.taps.org or call the toll-free TAPS resource and information helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).


On Saturday, Oct. 6, Opening Ceremonies will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. to welcome survivor families to the seminar.  Interviews are available following the ceremony.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, a panel discussion on faith and suicide loss will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. The panel will include faith leaders and experts.

FOR INTERVIEWS: Bonnie Carroll, TAPS President and Founder
                            Kim Ruocco, TAPS Vice President of Suicide Prevention and Postvention, and
                            surviving wife of Marine Corps Maj. John Ruocco
                            Dr. Carla Stumpf-Patton of Sarasota, Fla., TAPS Director of Suicide Postvention
                            Programs, and surviving wife of Marine Corps Sgt. Richard Stump
                            Dr. Frank Campbell, expert in the field of suicidology
                            Beth Lucci, of Naples, Fla., a seminar participant and the surviving sister of Marine
                            Corps Reserve Col. David Lucci
                            Betty Sundqvist, of Hernando, Fla., a seminar participant and the surviving mother
                            of Navy Lt. Brian Neal Hamlett
                            Kevin Hines, nationally known author his best-selling memoir, Cracked Not Broken,
                            Surviving and Thriving After A Suicide Attempt

Please email Rita Barry-Corke at rita@taps.org or call her at O: (202) 588-8722 (TAPS), C: (860) 304-1807 to arrange interviews with TAPS staff or participants or attend any part of the seminar.
Media covering this event should be familiar with safe messaging guidelines surrounding reporting on suicide, or may access the TAPS webinar, Reporting and Messaging on Suicide in the Military for guidance.