In this episode of Veterans Voices, Dr. Springer and United States Marine Corps Veteran Brian Vargas share an idea they have developed in collaboration to address the problem of Veteran suicide attempts.

TV Appearances on Veterans Voices of Contra Costa County

  • CAL VET-11:36
LIVE4BOX 15 min segment on VV

As Featured on KCBS Radio 

In this episode of Veterans Voices, Dr. Springer shares fresh ideas and practical insights about how to approach a loved one who may be in crisis.

The LIVE4BOX Project*


*First, a brief disclaimer (we are starting with the fine print because it's important to the success of our project)


The LIVE4BOX is part of a larger integrated clinical innovation. We ask that supporters of our project would respect our need to refine and test our idea at the high standards we uphold as the inventor (Dr. Springer) and co-developers (Dr. Springer and USMC Veteran Brian Vargas) of the LIVE4BOX project. Any premature attempts to offer interventions in part (e.g. using the LIVE4BOX in isolation, and out of context of the full strategic plan) will weaken our attempts to fully develop this innovative clinical approach and would be a violation of our intellectual property rights. If you would like to support or partner with us in this work, we ask that you contact Dr. Shauna Springer (shauna@post.harvard.edu).


What is a LIVE-4-BOX?

A LIVE4BOX is a relatively small storage case (usually an ammo can) that prominently features pictures on the outside and inside the box of loved ones which also holds key mementos that remind a Veteran of what he or she lives for (e.g. names of brothers and sisters in one’s unit, a purple heart medal, more pictures of loved ones, a love letter from one’s partner, a cross or other symbol of enduring faith, letters between Veterans contracting for mutual engagement in times of distress etc.). The LIVE4BOX is part of a larger strategic intervention that aims to address the problem of impulsive suicide attempts in a way that honors Veteran culture, values and language.

The LIVE-4-BOX intervention as a whole is designed to help Veterans stay in the fight by staying connected with the people and values that they choose to live for, even in times of distress, or during periods when they are feeling acutely disconnected. The LIVE4BOX is also meant to create and stimulate ongoing connection between the Veteran and other “battle buddies” or “fire team members” (who may be spouses, trusted civilian friends, supportive and emotionally safe parents, as well as those one served with). The LIVE4BOX is designed to help all Veterans feel greater connection with others and their own higher values, whether they own guns or not, and whether they ever face times of life-threatening distress or not.


What is the backstory behind the creation of the LIVE4BOX?


​The idea for the LIVE4BOX was generated by Dr. Shauna Springer’s clinical observation of a meaningful discrepancy in the themes of stories patients tell about their “near death experiences.” As she has observed, Vets who nearly lose their lives in battle often see the faces or hear the voices of their loved ones. Many times, these people urge them to fight for life - to "stay in the fight" because of powerful attachments that are worth living for - whether that is a spouse they love, a beloved pet, or a child they are missing while deployed. In impulsive suicide attempts, the core narrative is usually strikingly different. As she has noted, when it comes to impulsive suicide attempts, there is most often only a tunnel of darkness and despair - not the faces and voices of loved ones urging one to see life as precious and fight for it accordingly.

In light of this noteworthy discrepancy in these narratives, she thought that since the faces and voices of loved ones have helped many a soldier “come back from death,” maybe the same force can be tapped to urge people on the impulsive suicidal train of thought to stop the train. In order to explore the utility of this idea, she proposed this theory, concept and application to USMC Veteran Brian Vargas. Brian Vargas gave the LIVE4BOX its name and he and Dr. Springer have since worked collaboratively to develop this concept with the goal of reducing Veteran suicides. As such, the LIVE-4- BOX has been developed specifically for Veterans with continuous Veteran input. 


If you would like to support or partner with us in this work, we ask that you contact Dr. Shauna Springer (shauna@post.harvard.edu).