ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – The youth suicide rate is currently the highest it has ever been since collecting data in the 1960s according to JAMA Pediatrics. Further, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death among ages 10–24 in the U.S. and accounted for 5,178 deaths in this age group in 2012. In New Jersey, from 2013-15,there were 84 suicides in children ages 10-18; suicide rates declined for older youth (ages 19-24), but increased for younger youth (ages 10-18), according to the 2017 New Jersey Youth Suicide Report.
Responding to evidence from a recent National Athletic Trainers’ Association study that scholastic athletes experience more frequent mental health challenges than their non-athlete peers, NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) is providing easily accessible, online support.
A dedicated page on the NJSIAA website includes a variety of information, including articles focused on mental health, inspiration stories, and direct access to support hotlines and textlines:
- 2nd Floor Mental Health Hotline (888) 222-2228,
- NJ Hopeline (855) 654-6734, and
- The Crisis Text Line (Text "HOME" to 741 741).
All lines offer the option of remaining anonymous, along with providing confidential, 24/7 telephone counseling from specialists who are also able to make referrals to local resources.
“No one should struggle alone with mental illness,” says NJSIAA Executive Director Larry White. “While our focus is student-athletes, we want to support all of NJ’s youth whether they play sports or not. Our mission is to help them stay safe and healthy, on and off the field, and that’s what our mental health site is all about.”
NJSIAA mental health resources – hotline access, educational articles and athlete stories – are available here.
"Athletes have a high tendency to hide emotionally — especially our high performing ones," said Ryan Miller, athletic director at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School. "Knowing that the NJSIAA takes this seriously and is willing to devote space, time, and resources toward suicide prevention is fantastic."
Established in 1918, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association (NJSIAA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization comprised of 436 accredited public, private, and parochial high schools. A member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NJSIAA conducts tournaments and crowns champions in 32 sports. Championship competition for girls is sponsored in basketball, bowling, cross-country, fencing, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, and volleyball. Boys’ championships are determined in baseball, basketball, bowling, cross-country, fencing, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, outdoor track, winter track, volleyball, and wrestling.