(TRENTON) – Seeking to address alarmingly high rates of suicide among college-aged youth, the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Monday advanced legislation to require institutions of higher education to create a mental health awareness program, establish an expert panel to address the mental health needs of students and implement a peer support program.
Between 2007 and 2017, the national suicide rates for youth ages 10 to 24 increased by 56%. New Jersey colleges have experienced several tragedies; among the most recent, three students committed suicide over the course of one semester at Rowan University in 2019.
This bill (A-3005), known as the Mental Health Early Action on College Campuses Act, aims to raise awareness for available mental health services on campus and make it easier for students to access these services.
Sponsors of the measure, Assembly Democrats John Armato (D-Atlantic) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following joint statement:
“We cannot underestimate the value of early action when responding to students in crisis. The right support – whether it be an early diagnosis or quickly accessible services – can save lives. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in the United States, and too often it happens on college campuses. This bill sends a clear message to every college student in New Jersey: you are not alone, and help is always available.”