TRENTON, NJ (June 19, 2019) – Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 14th leading cause of death in New Jersey. On Monday, June 24, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to urge lawmakers to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health for all New Jersey residents. Dr. Shereef Elnahal, New Jersey Commissioner of Health will join advocates from 11:15-11:45 AM in the Annex Tunnel Tabling Area to show his support for mental health and suicide prevention.

“As a mother who lost her 16-year-old son to suicide, I know first-hand how critical suicide prevention efforts are in NJ. We are excited for the opportunity to bring awareness to our legislators at our AFSP NJ State Capitol Day on June 24th. We look forward to sharing information and stories with our policy makers in Trenton and trust they will continue to work to reduce the loss of lives from suicide in NJ. We need to do more to make sure that everyone starts to look at mental health through the same lens as physical health. Both need to be tended to and if something goes wrong with either one you need to seek help. We need more education, research, advocacy, awareness and support—all things AFSP is committed to,” said Wendy Sefcik, AFSP New Jersey Chapter Board Member.

Advocates will be asking legislators to prioritize suicide prevention initiatives for health professionals and first responders, including support of A 3866/S 2467that would require suicide prevention training for mental health professionals, A 1028/S 1730 that would require the Department of Law and Public Safety to establish a suicide prevention training curriculum for law enforcement officers, and A 4357/S 2898 that directs the Division of Fire Safety to establish a 24-hour, toll-free “New Jersey Fire and EMS Crisis Intervention Services” telephone hotline.

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Advocates will also be seeking support for youth suicide prevention legislation including A 3408/S 1823 that would expand suicide prevention training for educators, A 4756/S 3172 & A 4446/A 4592/S 2861/S 3081 that would require mental health instruction for students, A 3807/S 2683 that would require public schools with grades 7-12 and institutes of higher education to print the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number on student ID cards, and A 5491 that would allow operators of the statewide New Jersey Suicide Hopeline to place follow-up calls to minors aged 16 and older who call the hotline for counseling and support and are identified as being at high risk of suicide.

The New Jersey State Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Volunteers will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important public health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help legislators understand that state investments in mental health and suicide prevention can save lives.

AFSP New Jersey advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting over 40 state capitols across the United States in 2019 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.

On average, 129 Americans died by suicide each day in 2017, and upwards of 90% of those individuals had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. AFSP volunteers will urge state lawmakers to be the voice for the thousands of New Jersey residents affected by suicide each year.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube