24,000 suicide related calls are made by New Jersey residents every year, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273- TALK
(8255)) a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) funded program. Until today, only a limited number of these calls have been answered in New Jersey. Most have been routed to crisis centers in other parts of the country.
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey's (MHANJ) New Jersey MentalHealthCares Helpline is helping to prevent that from happening. Starting on September 4, the Helpline is accepting suicide related calls during its regular hours (weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The average answer time for a call is 15 seconds or less.
"The benefits of having the calls answered in-state are focused on greater familiarity with state resources that may lead to quicker response time and faster and more direct access to intervention for the caller," said Renee Burawski, MAHNJ'S Director of Training and Information Services.
"As a parent of an adult child who died by suicide, I am relieved to hear that these callers will get the help they need from a resource in their own state. I am proud that MHANJ is taking on this initiative," Dan Katz, South Orange resident, member of the MHANJ Board of Trustees.
"The Mental Health Association in New Jersey recognized the need to step in and help to fill the gap as an integral part our advocacy mission. We are committed to improving this situation. The Helpline is also well-prepared to be the point of contact for callers in suicidal distress and in desperate need of help," stated Carolyn Beauchamp, MSW, President of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, the organization that operates the Helpline. "This is a first step toward having all suicide calls answered in our home state. We will be applying for the state contract to increase this service when the state launches the process."
The only statewide helpline dedicated to behavioral health in New Jersey, the New Jersey MentalHealthCares Helpline is staffed by trained behavioral health care specialists. Further, it is equipped with a database and relationships with over 3000 agencies and programs across New Jersey -- including hospitals, police and mental health crisis services. The phone number is 1-866-202-HELP (4357). New Jersey MentalHealthCares Helpline is a service of the Mental Health Association in New Jersey that is funded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The Mental Health Association in New Jersey strives for good mental health for children and adults through advocacy, education, training and services. Its main office is located in Verona, New Jersey; satellite offices are located in Absecon, Bridgewater, Jersey City, Kenilworth, Montclair and Toms River. For more information visit www.mhanj.org or call 973-571-4100.