Support Group Helps Families Dealing with Military Suicides

TAPS Annual Conference will be held in San Diego Oct.6-7

The rate of military suicides has increased in the U.S. over the past year, according to the Department of Defense.

The DoD said there were 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of 2012, averaging to one suicide per day.

Unfortunately, the people who suffer most from this suicide rate are usually the families of these lost soldiers, and what they need most is someone to talk to who can help them cope with their sudden loss.

"The one thing that does help is to talk to someone else, who truly understands, who has walked that journey, who will be there to offer support, comfort and care," said the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Bonnie Carroll.

TAPS is a non-profit organization that offers support services and bereavement care to help military widows, children, parents, siblings and other loved ones filled with grief.

Members of TAPS will have the largest annual conference for "suicide survivors" in San Diego this weekend.

Each “survivor” will be paired with a peer mentor who has also lost a loved one due to suicide.

One of those peer mentors is Susan Selke, who lost her 28-year-old son in 2010 after the Marine took his own life. Selke said her son was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"To be honest, the first six months after his death I just operated in complete shock,” said Selke.

Many people like Selke find themselves alone and in need of healing during the grieving process, which can sometimes take from five to seven years.

That is why a support group like the one TAPS offers helps. Strangers are able to bond and find common ground when it comes to losing a military member who committed suicide.

"It's a healing experience to be able to give healing and receive healing," expressed Selke. "That's what our son would want us to do."

For more information about TAPS, visit the organization’s website.

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