(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Tom Giblin, Joe Danielsen and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help prevent student suicides at college campuses was approved, 77-0, by the full Assembly on Thursday. The bill (A-1613) is entitled the Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act.
Madison Holleran, a track star at Northern Highlands` Regional High School in Allendale, committed suicide in January 2014 while enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to the 2013 Youth Suicide Report issued by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for New Jersey youth ages 10-24. The most recent data for 2010-2012 shows that of the 233 youth suicides in New Jersey, 72 percent were committed by young adults ages 19-24.
“We cannot ignore this deeply concerning plague,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “With this simple step, we can hopefully help quell this trend and get young people the help they need. We cannot stand idle and accept this status quo.”
“We need to do more,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “We’ve lost too many young people already. We need to put a focus on reducing student suicides and attempted suicides.”
“This isn’t a concern that takes time off, so neither should the services we need to prevent more tragedies,” said Danielsen (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “This is a caring approach designed to provide young people with the proper care. This is a must.”
“Ensuring students are aware of mental health services offered on campus early on can save lives,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Students must know they are not alone and help is just a call or maybe a few steps away. If more suicides can be prevented, more lives saved with this small requirement of our colleges and universities, it is worth it.”
The bill requires an institution of higher education to have individuals with training and experience in mental health issues who focus on reducing student suicides and attempted suicides available on campus or remotely by telephone or other means for students 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The individuals will also work with faculty and staff on ways to recognize the warning signs and risk factors associated with student suicide.
Under the bill, no later than 15 days following the beginning of each semester, an institution must transmit to each student via electronic mail the contact information of the individuals.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on June 2.