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January 25, 2012

Every month, 70 New Jersey youths make a suicide attempt serious enough for hospitalization, and in 2008, 68 New Jerseyans 24 years and younger were successful. This makes suicide the fourth leading cause of death of New Jersey youths, according to the state Department of Children and Families.

Nevertheless, this statistic is relatively low compared with other states: New Jersey ranks one of the four lowest in rates of suicide in the country. The state's Youth Suicide Prevention Plan credits state policies as part of the reason -- pointing to strong gun laws and a state mandate that requires every county to have psychiatric screening centers and crisis hotlines staffed 24/7, as well as train school personnel in suicide warning signs. More than 40 percent of suicide attempts follow previous suicidal behaviors.

Counties also run programs aimed at helping youths deal with traumatic loss, bringing together school personnel, mental health clinicians, law enforcement, social service agencies and others. In the 18 month period ending March 2010, 3,991 individuals received on-site trauma response assistance to schools and communities after a death by suicide, homicide, or other critical incidents.

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