background shadows
July 26, 2012

CONTACT:   Kristine Brown
DCF Press Office:  609-633-8507

Christie Administration in Partnership with UMDNJ Receives $1.4 Million Federal Grant for Youth Suicide Prevention
Pilot Project Targets Camden, Monmouth, Passaic, Hudson, Middlesex and Bergen Counties

TRENTON, NJ – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration has awarded a $1.4 million youth suicide prevention grant to UMDNJ’s  University Behavioral HealthCare, in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF). Through the grant, new suicide prevention programming will be added in the state for individuals who work with youth and young adults from 10 to 24 years of age. The “New Jersey Youth Suicide Prevention Project” will target six pilot counties in a three-year period: Camden, Monmouth, Passaic, Hudson, Middlesex and Bergen Counties. The project is expected to begin in August 2012.

The grant application was submitted by UMDNJ’s Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth (TLC), DCF’s lead youth suicide prevention program in New Jersey.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake said, “In New Jersey, preventing youth suicide is a collaborative effort. TLC has created an expansive statewide network that effectively works to prevent suicide and promote healing and resiliency in the aftermath of traumatic loss. Although New Jersey has had the lowest state-level adolescent suicide rate for more than a decade, even just one youth suicide is too many. We are proud to partner with UMDNJ – University Behavioral Health Care to implement this important work.”

The grant will allow University Behavioral HealthCare to focus on best practice and evidence-based suicide prevention and intervention training programs for gatekeepers (non-mental health staff working with youth and young adults in schools and community programs), mental health clinicians, primary care physicians, other health care professionals and youth peer leaders. The project will also include a mental health and suicide screening component and an innovative social media project that will employ various social media properties to engage youth and young adults in suicide prevention activities, while connecting them with prevention resources across the state.

Christopher Kosseff, CEO of University Behavioral HealthCare, said, “This Garrett Lee Smith Grant is a vitally important element in the national suicide prevention effort. UMDNJ - University Behavioral HealthCare and its Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program feel privileged to represent New Jersey along with other state grantees in developing a best practices approach to suicide prevention. The potential exists here for significantly enhancing New Jersey’s youth and young adult suicide prevention efforts.  That means expanding our knowledge so that we can save more of our youth from suicide.”

Both Kosseff and Blake said the goals of the project are comprehensive. “Engaging and training those who work with youth in suicide prevention and postvention efforts and involving youth in a suicide prevention peer leader program will connect youth with caring adults, help change the culture of silence around the issue of suicide and encourage help-seeking,” Blake said.

Kosseff added, “Training clinicians and counselors to better assess youth for suicide and provide best-practice and evidence-based treatment will markedly increase prevention efforts throughout the State.”

For more information on youth suicide prevention and resources, visit or the Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth Program’s website

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), New Jersey’s state child welfare agency, was created in July 2006 as the state’s first Cabinet agency devoted exclusively to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in New Jersey. DCF includes the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Division of Family and Community Partnerships, Division of Children’s System of Care and Division on Women.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is New Jersey’s only health sciences university with more than 6,000 students on five campuses attending three medical schools, the State’s only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and New Jersey’s only school of public health. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the State.


# # #