Innovative Website to Prevent Suicide Risk Among Youth Launched:
In a bid to promote suicide prevention among youths an innovative peer-to-peer website has been launched which may encourage youth and young adults to communicate creatively about the difficult times they are experiencing so their messages can help peers encountering similar problems. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth & Young Adults Program (TLC) and the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Services have developed the website, Jersey Voice (www.jerseyvoice.net) which was officially launched this week — National Suicide Prevention Week (September 9-15). The TLC, with the support of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, developed this forum, which “exists for all – teens and young adults – in New Jersey who have ever had a horrible day, struggled with mental health, or lost a loved one. It’s about adults and experts stepping back (for the most part) and letting us do what we need to do and say what we need to say. It’s about using our own unique Jersey voices to help each other out, recognize our strengths, and inspire hope. It’s about getting involved, making a difference, and keeping Jersey strong.” TLC Director Donna Amundson pointed out that Jersey Voice’s mission is to help strengthen and advance TLC’s upstream suicide prevention efforts, to try to reach youth before they begin to feel hopeless and helpless. “We have created a platform where individuals can share their stories of hope, help and strength and getting through the difficult times in life with messages that can be told through stories, poems, music, photography, posters, videos and other creative outlets. The intent is that these stories will remain front and center on the website as a source of support and inspiration for other New Jersey teens and young adults,” Amundson explained. Allison Blake, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, said, “The mission of this website is to provide a space where the resounding voices of peers echo throughout as they show each other how to tap into strength, resiliency and connection when facing difficult times at home, at school or at play. We want to help our youth population find solutions to whatever types of stressful behavioral problems they encounter before they become crises.” TLC partnered with Emotion Technology to develop this site that combines a focus on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention with social media outlets to reach youth and young adults where they live and communicate. The site includes a series of tools and contacts, including a confidential and anonymous helpline for New Jersey’s youth and young adults. The site will also add a blog. As part of its launch, jerseyvoice.net is sponsoring the first Jersey Voice Statewide Social Media Festival to invite submissions in the form of prose, poems, music, song and dance, public service announcements, video and photography. The Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program. The Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program (TLC) at UMDNJ-University Behavioral HealthCare is New Jersey’s primary youth suicide prevention program funded by the Department of Children & Families, Division of Children’s System of Care. The TLC is an interactive, statewide network that offers collaboration and support to professionals working with school-age youth. The dual mission of the TLC is excellence in suicide prevention and trauma response assistance to schools following unfortunate losses due to suicide, homicide, accident and illness. This is accomplished through county, regional and statewide conferences, training, consultation, onsite traumatic loss response, and technical assistance. The purpose is to ensure that those working with youth from a variety of disciplines and programs have up-to-date knowledge about mental health issues, suicide prevention, traumatic grief, and resiliency enhancement. Since its inception, the TLC has trained thousands of individuals throughout the state with the purpose of saving lives and promoting post trauma healing and resiliency for the youth of New Jersey.