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
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