Families of military members lost to suicide gather to find hope, healing


Grieving military families gather at TAPS seminar

ARLINGTON, Va. —  The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors welcomed nearly 1,000 attendees to its 11th annual TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp from Oct. 11–14, in Phoenix. Made possible by the generous support of Boeing, New York Life Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project and Centene Corporation, the seminar brought together hundreds of families grieving the loss of a military loved one to suicide to share their stories, learn ways to cope with their grief and find healing in their shared experiences.

“The grief that follows a suicide loss is uniquely complicated, and it’s important for those who have lost a loved one to suicide to connect with others who are experiencing a similar journey,” said Kim Ruocco, TAPS Vice President of Suicide Prevention & Postvention. “Families need to know they are not alone. At the TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar, grieving families from across the country came together to learn more about how to cope with their loss, honor their loved one and find hope and healing together.”

For more than a decade, the TAPS Suicide Prevention & Postvention program has cared for some 13,500 survivors of suicide loss and developed best practices in suicide prevention and postvention. TAPS proactively deploys its postvention model of support within the military and veteran communities, both in the United States and abroad, and with civilian mental health professionals.

For adults, the seminar featured sessions led by experts in the fields of suicide, grief and trauma. Throughout the weekend, families got to know each other in a relaxed, welcoming setting where they shared memories of their fallen heroes and found comfort, hope and healing in hearing each other’s stories.

Children and teens at the seminar attended the TAPS Good Grief Camp, where they gained a network of friends who have also lost a family member to suicide. Experts in the fields of child development, mental health and education helped children and young adults process their grief and embrace healing through games, crafts and other age-appropriate activities.

Luke Air Force Base members and recent veterans from the Phoenix area and beyond volunteered as specially trained TAPS Military Mentors at the TAPS Good Grief Camp, providing one-to-one companionship and support to the children and helping them remain connected to the military community. For more information on volunteering as a TAPS Military Mentor, visit www.taps.org/militarymentor.