Downey, Houghtaling, Quijano & Mosquera Measure to Designate September as "Youth Suicide Prevention Awareness" Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Annette Quijano and Gabriela Mosquera to spread awareness of youth suicide in New Jersey was recently released by an Assembly panel.

“Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in the state of New Jersey,” said Downey (D- Monmouth). “It is the second leading cause of death for youth ages in that group in the United States. More must be done to raise awareness of youth suicide to help parents, family and friends recognize the signs and seek support for their loved ones.”

The Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR-102) permanently designates September as “Youth suicide Prevention Awareness Month” in New Jersey to increase public awareness of the risk factors and warning signs for youth suicide, increase community involvement in creating strategies to prevent teens and young adults from taking their own lives, and to encourage the development of statewide comprehensive anti-suicide initiatives.

“Although New Jersey has a lower suicide rate in comparison to the rest of the United States, suicide affects youth in the entire state, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or economic background,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “This is an important issue in every community that should be recognized in this way to raise awareness and educate the public on prevention and where to go for help.”

“Youth suicide impacts families, friends and communities,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Although many suicide attempts do not result in death, they may cause serious injury to the victims and lifelong trauma to themselves, their family and friends. Raising awareness of youth suicide can save lives and that’s what this bill aims to do.”

“A young person considering suicide may exhibit behavioral warning signs prior to a suicide attempt,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Educating family and friends on these signs could save a young person’s life. Designating one month to education and awareness of youth suicide will encourage residents to become more vigilant and help them understand how important this issue is to our families and communities.”

Under the joint resolution, the Governor is requested to issue an annual proclamation recognizing September as “Youth Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” in New Jersey and calling upon public officials, the citizens of the state, and other interested groups to observe the month with appropriate activities and programs.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on Monday, September 19.