SENATE HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND SENIOR CITIZENS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

[First Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 3659

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  SEPTEMBER 19, 2011

 

      The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 3659 (1R).

      This bill requires the Commissioner of Children and Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Services and the New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, to develop and adopt a Statewide youth suicide prevention plan no later than 180 days after the effective date of the bill.

      The plan must address, but not be limited to:

·    identification of existing State and local sources of data concerning youth suicide deaths, youth suicide attempts, and self-inflicted injuries by youth;

·    coordination and sharing of such data among State and local data sources;

·    promotion of greater public awareness about youth suicide prevention services and resources;

·    identification of barriers to accessing mental health and substance abuse services, and opportunities to enhance access; and

·    promotion of evidenced-based and best practice programs addressing youth suicide and self-injury, listed on the Suicide Prevention Resource Center’s Best Practices Registry.

      The bill also requires the Commissioners of Human Services and Children and Families, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services, to prepare a report that reviews the effectiveness and sufficiency of services provided by New Jersey-based suicide prevention hotlines, and transmit it to the Governor and the Legislature no later than 12 months after the effective date of the bill.

      The bill further requires the Commissioner of Children and Families to review the Department of Children and Families grant application procedures to ensure that grant applications submitted by the department for youth suicide prevention initiatives are completed accurately and in a timely manner.  Further, the bill requires the commissioner to give thorough consideration to, and, where appropriate, apply for any grants from the federal government, and contributions and donations from other public or private sources as may be used for the purposes of the bill.

      The bill takes effect immediately, and requires the commissioner to transmit its report to the Governor and the Legislature within 18 months after the effective date of the bill.

      According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, more than 140 crisis centers participate in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network.  Each center receives calls from designated areas of the country, and calls are routed to the closest available crisis center. New Jersey operates three crisis centers in the Lifeline network: CONTACT We Care in Westfield, CONTACT of Mercer County in Ewing, and CONTACT of Burlington County in Moorestown.

      An August 2010 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline report stated that from August 2009 through July 2010, 60% of New Jersey’s crisis calls were answered by Lifeline crisis counselors in other states (primarily New York and Nebraska), and that these counselors likely lacked access to specific information regarding New Jersey’s youth suicide prevention services and resources.

      This bill is identical to Senate Bill No. 2719 SCA (S. Kean/Beach), which the committee also reported on this date.