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New Law Takes Aim At Teen Suicide

Signed into law after lame duck session of legislature

A bill aimed at preventing teen suicide was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie.

The bill—A-3659—sponsored by state Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini and Dave Rible, both R-Monmouth, requires the commissioner of Children and Families to develop and adopt a statewide youth suicide prevention plan within the next six months.

The prevention plan is to be developed in concert with the Department of Human Services and the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council. Under the bill, the plan will identify, collect and share data with state and local sources on youth suicide deaths, attempts and self-inflicted injuries, as well as promote greater public awareness about youth suicide and prevention resources.

“This legislation will result in a more efficient and effective program,” Rible said in a release. “Youngsters calling a suicide lifeline are reaching out for help. In such a desperate situation he or she should have access to a counselor they can talk to and receive
immediate information regarding New Jersey-specific prevention services and resources.”

A report by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline showed that from August 2009 through July 2010, 60 percent of New Jersey’s crisis calls were answered by Lifeline crisis counselors in other states, primarily New York and Nebraska, according to the release.

“The real tragedy is there are resources available to these youngsters who feel hopeless and helpless,’’ Angelini said in the release. “While New Jersey currently operates three crisis centers as part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network, we can and must do
better. Education, data sharing and greater public awareness of this mental health issue is key.”

Rible and Angelini said in the release that the legislation, introduced in Jan. 2011 and passed both houses in December, was prompted by a spate of teen suicides.

This post is shared among several Patch sites in Morris, Somerset and Sussex counties. Comments below may be by readers of any of those sites.

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