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Program Plans Suicide-Prevention 'Webinar' for Grief Counselors

Jamie Findlater, Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2008 –

As part of an effort to educate civilian and military health care providers about grief counseling, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, is planning a “webinar” featuring a leading expert in suicide prevention.

“There are a lot of emotions that emerge during a time of grief,” Jill Harrington LaMorie, TAPS education training manager, said in an “ASY Live” interview on BlogTalkRadio.com. “Sometimes, casualty assistance is very much on-the-job training, and it’s important to know, ‘What is grief? What is trauma? What are the emotions that a family goes through when a military death happens?’” The webinar with Dr. David A Jobbs, co-clinical director at Catholic University, is the first in a series of professional continuing education training courses that TAPS is offering. It’s scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. EST on Dec. 4.

“In the military, deaths tend to be young and tend to be traumatic in nature and unexpected,” LaMorie said. “We want to raise the understanding of those who interface with our family members as well as community health professionals. Additionally, a lot of our military members may turn to civilian outlets, and we want our community health providers to know that there are special needs encountered by our military members.”

The webinar is free for active duty military members and employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For civilians seeking continuing education credit, a registration fee of $25 applies.

LaMorie explained that the seminars will be held during lunch time, so anyone with a computer and a telephone can access it. “Anyone who works with our military and military surviving family members can benefit,” she said, “including command leaders and military chaplains.”

As a result of their participation, one continuing education credit will be granted for those who seek it. “We will also provide certificates of participation for those who need them,” LaMorie added.

The webinar can be accessed at www.taps.org/professionaleducation.

“One of the key things we will address in the webinar is working with the surviving families to understand what they are facing,” said Bonnie Carroll, the program’s founder, who also was interviewed on ASY Live. “There is a need to understand when a certain individual needs professional attention.”

TAPS is looking to continue to provide educational courses like this in the future, she said, planning for one every quarter.

TAPS is specifically geared toward providing ongoing emotional health hope and healing to all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one in military service to America, she said.

By calling a toll-free number, 800-959-TAPS (800-959-8277), grieving family members can connect to peer-based emotional support, crisis care, casualty casework assistance, and grief and trauma resources and information in local communities across the nation, Carroll said.

(Jamie Findlater works in the New Media directorate of the Defense Media Activity.)

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