State law requires districts to adopt suicide prevention policies.
New Jersey Administrative Code 6A:16-11.1 Adoption of policies and procedures.
(b) The district board of education shall develop and adopt policies and procedures for school district employees, volunteers, or interns with reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a student has attempted or completed suicide, to report the information to the Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, in a form and manner prescribed by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services pursuant to N.J.S.A. 30:9A-24.a.
New Jersey Statutes 30:9A-12 Findings, declarations.
The Legislature finds and declares that the incidence of suicide among adolescents has increased alarmingly and suicide presently ranks as the second leading cause of death for adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 years; that the increase in the rate of adolescent suicide is often associated with the significant changes in life-styles, values and family relationships that are occurring in our society; that the occurrence of adolescent suicide is found among youth of all racial, social and economic backgrounds and even though suicide is underreported as a cause of death for adolescents, in 1982, 114 youth suicides were reported in New Jersey; that mental health professionals believe that many suicides can be prevented through suicide awareness education programs in the schools and crisis intervention programs for adolescents and their families in the community; and that in order to ensure that the most effective prevention and crisis intervention programs are available and developed Statewide, it is necessary to establish a youth suicide prevention program in the State Department of Human Services which will be administered by community mental health services providers in cooperation with local boards of education.
New Jersey Statutes 30:9A-13 Youth suicide prevention program.
The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services shall establish a program of youth suicide prevention projects which shall be administered by community mental health services providers in consultation with local boards of education. The objectives of the program shall include but are not limited to the following: a. Classroom instruction or materials designed to achieve the following objectives: to teach students facts about adolescent suicide and how to recognize signs of suicidal tendencies; to inform students of available community services aimed at prevention of suicide; and to increase students’ awareness of the relationship between adolescent suicide and drug and alcohol use. b. Training programs for classroom teachers and other teaching staff members in suicide prevention. c. Nonclassroom school or community based programs such as a 24-hour “hotline” telephone service staffed by trained professional counselors, crisis intervention and postintervention services, parent education programs and programs for the families of suicide victims.
New Jersey Statutes 30:9A-14 Guidelines.
The Commissioner of Human Services in consultation with the Commissioner of Education shall prepare guidelines for the youth suicide prevention program. In addition to emphasizing the objectives provided in section 2 of this act, the guidelines shall foster cooperation between local boards of education and community mental health services providers.
New Jersey Statutes 30:9A-22 Findings, declarations relative to youth suicide.
The Legislature finds and declares that: a. Overall, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans and the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. b. During the period from 1952 to 1995, the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled. During the period from 1980 to 1997, the rate of suicide among persons ages 15 to 19 increased by 11% and among persons ages 10 to 14 by 109%. Although suicide among young children is a rare event, the dramatic increase in the rate among persons ages 10 to 14 underscores the urgent need for intensifying efforts to prevent suicide among persons in this age group. It is also widely reported that the risk for attempted or completed suicide varies with race, religion, age and sexual identity. c. In 1996, 72 persons under the age of 25 committed suicide in New Jersey, and every month at least 127 young people in this State attempt suicide. Over 40% of the suicide attempts of minors are second or subsequent attempts. Non-fatal suicide attempts outnumber suicide death and often result in significant medical and economic costs, and in physical, emotional and psychological damage. Like suicide deaths, however, suicide attempts are generally under-reported. d. It is estimated that fewer than 25% of suicide attempts are reported. When they are reported, the reaction often makes the person less likely to seek further help. Suicide evokes complicated and uncomfortable reactions that stigmatize the survivors and increase their burden of hurt, isolation and secrecy. This secrecy also tends to diminish the accuracy and amount of information available about persons who have attempted or completed suicides, which information could help suicide prevention efforts. e. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a program in this State to: collect information about youths who attempt suicide and improve the information available to both professionals, who are in contact with youth at risk of suicide, and families at risk; identify and provide suitable intervention services to reduce the incidence of suicide; and educate youths and families at risk about the resources available for suicide prevention and intervention.