TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly unanimously passed a bill (A1443), sponsored by the Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, that requires suicide prevention training as a condition of licensure for mental health professionals.
“This issue hit very close to home recently, when we lost yet another teenager to suicide in a community where my family and I have very strong roots, and where young people in my family grew up. It was one more vibrant, short life lost to a growing, terrible phenomenon,” said Assemblywoman DeCroce, who represents portions of Morris, Essex and Passaic counties.
In New Jersey, suicide is the 14th leading cause of death overall, but the second among those aged 15 to 24, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Morris County alone, young people between the ages of 10 to 19 years old comprised 61.6 percent of all emergency department visits due to suicide or self-harm between 2015 and 2017, and the trend is increasing, according to data reported by the non-profit North Jersey Health Collaborative.
“I am grateful to Speaker Coughlin for posting this bill for a vote immediately after I contacted him last week about the need for urgent action, and I thank my fellow members of the Assembly for moving it forward. I now urge our colleagues in the state Senate to please act swiftly in the hopes we can add another preventative measure to combat this terrible trend,” Assemblywoman DeCroce added.
The bill requires clinical social workers, therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychoanalysts to complete a minimum of four hours of suicide prevention training every six years. The Division of Consumer Affairs will create a list of approved training programs that address the prevention, treatment, assessment, screening and management of suicide in the clinical context.
According to the CDC, suicide remains one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2014, 478 veterans and members of the military in New Jersey killed themselves – a rate of 23 percent.
The New Jersey violent death reporting system found that 30 percent of people who died by suicide in 2015 were in either mental health or substance abuse treatment at the time of their death.