NEW JERSEY -- Northfield Bank Foundation has provided a grant of $10,000 to crisis listening line Caring Contact to enable the hotline to expand its Save Our Youth Program. Save Our Youth is a program designed to raise awareness about teen suicide and increase resources to help teenagers in crisis. 

Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline and listening community, providing active listening support and best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. More than 100 trained volunteer listeners answered nearly 9,000 calls last year from people in crisis, having suicidal thoughts or simply feeling depressed and lonely.

The hotline launched the Save Our Youth Program in 2012 and to date has distributed more than 20,000 pieces of educational materials to 51 schools, churches, service organizations and nonprofits working with youth throughout North-Central New Jersey, including posters, cards, bookmarks and brochures targeting both youth and adults.

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The Northfield grant will enable the agency to introduce pilot classroom training for students in active listening, emotional wellness and suicide prevention with the goal of giving students the tools they need to share their emotional pain and suffering with family and friends before reaching the point of considering suicide, according to Janet Sarkos, Caring Contact's executive director.

"The ultimate goal of this project is to bring Caring Contact’s 40-plus years of experience in active listening and suicide prevention into as many classrooms as possible," Sarkos said. "This grant will fund the first step in this process. With tested and proven curricula in hand, we can then expand our reach to classrooms all over our service area, helping students express themselves to others and to listen actively and compassionately when needed."

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24 in New Jersey. Each day in the United States there are an average of more than 5,200 attempted suicide by youth in grades 7-12. Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.

Caring Contact works with educators and parents to bring the program to schools. Any school administrator or parent interested in introducing the Save our Youth Program to their school, or simply want to learn more about the program, should contact Melinda Allen-Grote, the hotline's outreach coordinator, at 908.301.1899 or melinda.allengrote@caringcontact.org.

If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call Caring Contact at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org.

Anyone interested in volunteering at Caring Contact should visit http://caringcontact.org/give-support/volunteer/. There are non-listening volunteering opportunities, as well.

Caring Contact serves Central and Northern New Jersey and is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey. Callers also reach Caring Contact by dialing 908-232-2880. Those preferring to seek supporting through texting may text “heart” to 741-741. The hotline also provides best-in-class training to the Central and Northern New Jersey Community.

About Caring Contact
Caring Contact is an award-winning, volunteer-staffed caring and crisis hotline providing active listening support and best-in-class education to the Central and Northern New Jersey community. We attentively and compassionately serve those in emotional distress and educate our communities about the power of personal connection. We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the American Association of Suicidology. If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call us at 908-232-2880.To learn more, visit www.caringcontact.org