MILITARY SUICIDE WIDOW: “Through Speaking Out, I Have Been Able to Heal”

A FAMILY HEALING TOGETHER: Amid Military Suicide Crisis, TAPS Answers Call

by Bill Briggs
NBC News, Oct. 25, 2012

The call she placed, and the advice she received, didn’t simply allow Rebecca Morrison to survive one of her worst days. The words she heard, she said, saved her life.

“Once you lose someone to suicide, you are so prone to suicide yourself. I got to that point. If they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here. Every widow I’ve talked to, every family member, has felt that way. You just want to be with that person more than anything. I mean, he was my husband,” said Rebecca Morrison, a military suicide widow who lost her husband, Army Capt. Ian Morrison in March. Ian was a 2007 West Point graduate and Apache helicopter pilot at Fort Hood, Texas, when he took his own life March 21, 2012 after calling the DoD suicide hotline for help and being placed on hold for more than an hour. Later, Morrison fatally shot himself in the head. Rebecca found his body inside their Copperas Cove home. Ian was 26. “He was one of the best and brightest that the Army had,” Rebecca said. “He tried six times to get help. We need to know and we need to really take it to heart that when someone comes in to get help, that they really need it.”


Before a Fort Hood memorial service to honor her husband – an Army chopper pilot who ended his life – Morrison grabbed a scrap of paper from her nightstand, read the scrawled number, and dialed up the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

In that pitch-black moment, she needed answers to two desperate questions. On the other end, Kim Ruocco listened. Seven years earlier, Ruocco had lost her husband, a Marine major, to suicide.

“I can’t even breathe,” Morrison began, through sobs, from her Texas home.

“How do you breathe?”

“It will just come,” Ruocco replied from the TAPS office in Arlington, Va.

“How can I ever be happy again?”

“It doesn’t get less painful,” Ruocco told her. “After time, it just gets … less present.”

Six months later, Morrison, 25, is breathing. She’s also teaching third graders, running, riding her horse, and Thursday — remembering Ian on what would have been his 27th birthday.

She’s also speaking at anti-suicide events and launching a suicide support group near Dallas — all of it, she added, because she placed that call.

He tried six times to get help. We need to know and we need to really take it to heart that when someone comes in to get help, that they really need it.

— Rebecca Morrison, military suicide widow who lost her husband Army Capt. Ian Morrison, an Apache helicopter pilot based at Fort Hood

But with one U.S. service member committing suicide every 19 hours, it’s the breathing that Morrison mentions first when asked how TAPS helped her most.

“Once you lose someone to suicide, you are so prone to suicide yourself. I got to that point. If they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“Every widow I’ve talked to, every family member, has felt that way. You just want to be with that person more than anything. I mean, he was my husband. They’re saving the lives of the survivors.”

Read the rest of this story:

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/25/14697657-a-family-healing-together-amid-military-suicide-crisis-taps-answers-the-call

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