Suicide Prevention

New Insights for Suicide Prevention

“A Power Greater than Despair” (My leading keynote)

What would happen if one of my worst fears – losing a patient to suicide – came true?

What if I were to fully acknowledge that despite my best efforts, I cannot save everyone?

Since living or dying is an individual choice, can we stop someone from ending their life when they are fully bent on self-destruction?
These questions kept me awake at night for many years until I realized that in my patients’ most desperate moments, there is a hidden narrative that helps us understand what has a power that is greater than despair. This talk applies to suicide prevention efforts for civilians and veterans.

Understanding and Addressing Veteran Suicide (45 minute keynote presentation)

The story of why veterans and first responders die by suicide is often NOT the same as the story of why civilians die by suicide.

If we continue to use approaches developed for civilians, we will not get real traction in preventing veteran and first responder suicide. This talk helps us understand the greatest vulnerability of society’s bravest citizens and describes strategies that have the greatest potential to keep our veterans and first responders in the fight.

Firearm Safety: How to Approach a Loaded Conversation

Conversations about firearms are emotionally loaded and may have life or death stakes. Asking questions about firearm ownership in the wrong way can actually increase suicide risk. These talks and trainings tell the story of several innovative approaches to suicide prevention that can change the conversation about firearm safety. I can offer a 20-minute keynote or a 60-minute live web-based training. Learn More…

Understanding and Treating Moral Injury

VA research has linked guilt related to combat to suicide. For nearly a decade, I worked with a large caseload of Veterans as a frontline mental health psychologist. During this time, I developed and deployed several rounds of a well-received, highly effective group-based treatment for moral injury. This talk outlines the model I created and methods I used to treat moral injury and analyzes what made this treatment effective, in light of theory and research on moral injury.

Suicide Prevention: A Tactical Analysis (60 minute presentation or training)

There are wounds of war that are far more treacherous and potentially lethal than the “invisible wounds” that we have focused on to date. Without a clear understanding of the battle at hand, we are fighting blind.

This talk presents a totally novel approach – applying a tactical framework that empowers service members, veterans and those who support them with a new understanding for how to prevent suicide.

Preview of my book Warrior: How to Support Those Who Protect Us

Warrior brings the worlds of the warrior and the non-military American citizen together to shine new light on things that many of us thought we understood: for example, how to build trust, how to overcome stigma, how to approach conversations about firearm safety, how to understand the suicidal mind, and how to create a meaningful existence. Shauna Springer (known to many veterans as “Doc Springer”) offers us a window into how our bravest citizens may struggle and draws from the experiences of our warfighters to help us understand true courage and the bonds of love that keep all of us in the fight.

“I stand behind Shauna Springer and her work. She understands the importance of Tribe and has valuable insights to share."

Sebastian Junger
Author of the books Tribe and War

This manuscript is completed and with my literary agent for sale to a publisher. Sign up here to be notified when this book is published.

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The Warrior Box Project

The Warrior Box Project is a tool developed in collaboration with Marine Corps Veteran Brian Vargas. Together we created an approach that is based on a deep understanding of the culture of those in the military and the psychology of the Warrior Code.
Learn more…

Best-practice Postvention

“Postvention” refers to how we can support those who have lost a loved one to suicide in order to decrease risk of negative outcomes – including potentially heightened suicide risk - among those impacted.

Postvention IS Prevention.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors has developed the field-leading, best practice Postvention Model. In my role as TAPS Senior Director of Suicide Prevention Initiatives, with a team of the best postvention experts in the field, I helped develop and disseminate this model.

The TAPS Suicide Prevention and Postvention Team offers programs to support those impacted by suicide, and trainings and consultations to help other organizations deploy the TAPS Postvention Model. Some of the postvention trainings I have helped develop have been funded for national dissemination, including the following three trainings:

SUICIDE, GRIEF AND TRAUMA - SUPPORTING VETERANS AND FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN

Link for free access to course
Presented by the TAPS Institute for Hope and Healing®, this webinar with Shauna Springer, PhD, and Kim Ruocco, MSW, will offer insight around the experiences of grief and loss, as compared with trauma, and identify common barriers that may prevent veterans and military family members from discussing their experiences of grief and loss. This discussion will also explain why trauma must be proactively addressed and treated to allow for a healthy grief journey. (This training is 60 mins with 30 minutes of additional Q and A)
This training has been funded for dissemination without limit through the Boeing Foundation

Postvention: Healing After Suicide Loss

Link for free access to course

Course Description: Postvention is a term unfamiliar to many people, yet it is a critical component of suicide prevention. Postvention refers to actions taken following a suicide that help promote healing and decrease risk in those exposed.

Join Dr. Shauna Springer, the Senior Director of Suicide Prevention and Postvention Initiatives at Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, as she discusses postvention and why it is important, in “Postvention: Healing After Suicide.” TAPS has served thousands of survivors of suicide loss over the past decade, and in the process they have developed and refined a best-practice postvention model. In this course, Dr. Springer introduces learners to the three phases of this model, which include Stabilization, Grief Work and Post-Traumatic Growth.

(This “micro-learning” course is about 10 minutes long)

In partnership with the PsychArmor Institute, this training has been funded for national dissemination through the NFL Foundation.

Grief and Trauma

Grief and Trauma Link for free access to course

Course Description:
In “Grief and Trauma,” Dr. Shauna Springer explains that grief and trauma are different challenges -- and that they require different healing strategies. At the end of this course, the learner will understand symptoms common to both grief and trauma after suicide loss, describe why grief is often overlooked in clinical settings where Veterans and military families are served, and understand why it is important to treat trauma after suicide loss before treating grief.
(This “micro-learning” course is about 10 minutes long)

In partnership with the PsychArmor Institute, this training has been funded for national dissemination through the NFL Foundation.

Coming soon!
Defining the Warrior Spirit (as featured on “Transitions from War”)
Shauna Springer, Ph.D., is a psychologist who has embedded her life within the military and veteran community. More than any other civilian, Shauna “gets it.” She has built a deep trust with hundreds of veterans, and has been permitted, with their blessing, to attend extremely private and sacred ceremonies as the only female among large groups of male veterans. She has become a part of the Tribe of warriors. How did this come to be?
Today we explore some of her personal background in the context of a conversation about what makes someone a warrior and what allows someone who hasn’t served in the military to earn the trust of the Tribe. We intended to tape a 30-minute podcast but we ended up talking for nearly two hours – this is one of my favorite conversations – hope you enjoy!
Facing Our Demons as a Squad (as featured on Transitions from War)
Dr. Shauna Springer returns to the show and talks about how we can understand suicide and how to prevent our friends and loved ones from attempting or completing a suicide by taking on this enemy using the same principles of the Marine Rifle Squad. Often the topic of suicide is discussed with a helpless and morose tone, but this conversation is not that. Doc Springer fills us in on how we can empower ourselves and our friends.
Dr. Springer discusses some of the concepts from her upcoming book, and how the bonds of love forged in war are stronger than the despair we can feel.
Taking Shame out of the Suicide Conversation This episode features Dr. Shauna Springer and Mike Ergo, who co-authored a recent article in the Marine Corps Times article on how we can talk about suicide. As we talk about in the show, a Marine Corps colonel was recently quoted as saying that "suicide is a shameful act." We get into why this is not accurate and how to productively talk about suicide and how to help those suffering and the loved ones of those who have completed a suicide.
As featured on the Head Space and Timing Podcast In this episode, you’ll learn about Doc Springer’s background and experience, the hidden pain that veterans often avoid disclosing (even in therapy), developing trust with veterans, and how she partners with veterans to develop an effective, treatment plan to fully engage those she serves.
One of the other reasons is that I like to get in there and explore what has brought people to this field. And more often than not, that digging (respectful and mindful, of course!) yields a treasure trove of passion and inspiration. And so it is with my guest this week, Shauna Springer, Ph.D.
The Power of Trust. Without Trust, Secrets Stay Secret. Summary (written by podcast host Guy McPherson): Known to many veterans as “Doc Springer,” she has helped hundreds of warriors reconnect with their tribe, strengthen their most important relationships, and build lives that are driven by their deepest values. Based on the trust she has earned within the veteran community, she has acquired a wealth of knowledge about how our bravest citizens may struggle, and the sacred values and potentially life-saving strategies that may help all of us stay in the fight.

Free Articles

Is Suicide Selfish? (Psychology Today)

Suicide is a uniquely devastating event that leaves lasting damage. Yet, even though suicide causes massive collateral damage, can it really be considered selfish?
Calling Suicide Shameful is the Wrong Call (Marine Corps Times)

Effective suicide prevention with Marines requires us to call out the warrior spirit within them, but in a way that is psychologically astute. Rather than shaming them, we must do these 5 things…
The Power of Tribe (Connecting Vets Radio)

Once a person trusts me as his or her “Doc,” almost inevitably, they start to talk about struggles with suicidal thinking (their “demons”) at different times in their life. This is true for veterans and civilians alike. If suicidal thoughts are actually common, what can we do?
Preventing Veteran Suicide: A New Approach (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

One night, around 3 a.m., as I was thinking about the stories of my patients’ most desperate hours, I reached an insight that has fundamentally changed my approach to suicide prevention...