Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Suicide Team Experts Available for Commentary on Mental Health Issues Addressed in "A Star Is Born"

Experts Available to Address Crucial Implications of Suicide Messaging

MEDIA ADVISORY – February 22, 2019


Conversations addressing mental health issues have been the subject of media coverage surrounding the 2019 Oscar nominations. Specifically, with the nomination of “A Star Is Born,” starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, an opportunity has been presented to educate and inform the public about the suicide epidemic we are currently facing in our country.

Experts from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Suicide Prevention & Postvention team are available for media interviews in connection with the 91st Academy Award Ceremony scheduled to air nationwide on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. EST.

The TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention team serves more than 12,000 surviving family members who have lost a military loved one to suicide. As part of TAPS public outreach and education efforts, the team has promoted the use of safe messaging in public discussions on suicide. Team leaders have also been working closely with the entertainment industry to ensure safe messaging on suicide in popular films and television series.


Experts from the TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention team are available to speak with media about suicide messaging in “A Star Is Born” and how to discuss, portray and report on suicide safely in ways that minimize risk to vulnerable individuals. TAPS experts can also discuss best practices in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention in both the military and civilian populations.

Experts available for interviews include:

  • Kim Ruocco, MSW is the TAPS Vice President of Suicide Prevention & Postvention and 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 Master’s 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 veterans 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 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 aid through ASIST, as well as Psychological Autopsy Investigations through the American Association for Suicidology. Dr. Stumpf-Patton holds 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. 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.


To request an interview with an expert from the TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention team, please contact TAPS Vice President of Media Relations, Rita Barry-Corke, at or (860) 304-1807.


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

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The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is the leading national organization providing compassionate care and survivor support services for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Since 1994, TAPS has offered support to more than 85,000 survivors of fallen military in the form of 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).