N.J. pledges $6M to combat teen suicide in response to NJ.com investigation

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New Jersey will spend $6 million on mental health training for school and college employees in response toan NJ Advance Media investigation of the state’s rising suicide rate among teens and young adults.

The state will also form a working group of experts to develop mental health resources, such as best practices for schools.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced both initiatives Tuesday morning at Maple Shade High School in Burlington County.

“Mental health must be prioritized in the same way as physical health,” the Democratic governor said during the event. “There can be no more shame. There can be no more reticence. We’ve lost too many lives.”

State officials said the $6 million will come from $100 million in taxpayer funds tagged to combat opioid addiction. They note that substance abuse is often associated with mental health conditions.

The push to tackle the mental health crisis comes after New Jersey documented 100 suicides in 2017 among people ages 15-24, its highest number since the 1990s.

Despite more teens and young adults expressing feelings of hopelessness and depression, NJ Advance Media found that tens of thousands of New Jersey students attend schools without the recommended number of counselors. A shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists also leaves many families struggling to find timely and affordable care when students are in crisis….

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