New Jersey – Rutgers University

New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Project
Garrett Lee Smith State
New Jersey

The New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Project (NJYSPP) targets youth between the ages of 10 and 24 who are at risk for suicide through a comprehensive initiative that trains gatekeepers and clinicians in suicide prevention and intervention, establishes school and community screening to identify at-risk youth, reaches youth directly via a social media campaign, and leverages positive peer messaging to change dangerous norms around codes of silence and stigma around help-seeking for suicide, mental health, and substance abuse.  Programs are embedded in an existing statewide infrastructure of community partnerships.  Advancing five of the 10 goals of the NJ State Youth Suicide Prevention Plan, the NJYSPP targets high-risk youth including LGBTQ youth, Latina adolescents, African American male youth, survivors of suicide loss, as well as youth in colleges and universities, the juvenile justice system, and out of home placements.

Using information from the New Jersey Violent Death Reporting System (NJVDRS), the six NJ counties with the highest incidence of completed suicides for ages 10-24 during the years 2007-2009 have been targeted for specific attention.  An integrated training approach using evidence-based and best practice programs includes the following components:  Connect Prevention/Intervention trains individuals to identify at-risk youth and link youth to services, with 1,425 individuals projected to be trained by the end of the third year; Connect Postvention will train at least 1,425 professionals by the end of the third year to provide an integrated community response in the aftermath of suicide, reduce risk of contagion and promote healing; and Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk trains clinicians in the core competencies necessary to work with suicidal clients, with at least 450 clinicians will be trained by the end of Year 3.  Trained trainers in these curricula will ensure sustainability.

To enhance gatekeeper training initiatives, NJ integrates Sources of Strength peer leader training to increase the number of youth receiving suicide prevention and strengths-based messaging, revers norms of silence, increase help-seeking and connect at-risk youth with trusted adults.  By Year 3, there will be 16 peer leader teams, 500 peer leaders, and 80 adult advisors.  The NJYSPP also includes implementation of the Teen Screen program in schools and primary care.  The goal is to increase the number of schools and physicians using Teen Screen and referring at-risk youth for services.  A total of 36 schools will implement teen screen by Year 3.  The last component is a statewide Social Media Campaign to develop a social media strategy using Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to reach a potential 1.6 million NJ youth with suicide prevention messaging, linkages to NJ suicide prevention programs and to encourage use of the NJ Second Floor Helpline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.