DeCroce bill requiring suicide prevention training for mental health practitioners advances

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce

PARSIPPANY — The Assembly Human Services Committee cleared Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce’s bill (A1443) requiring suicide prevention training as a condition of licensure for mental health professionals.

“Forty percent of people who committed suicide in this state had a diagnosed mental health problem,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “It makes sense that those treating people for mental health conditions be trained in suicide prevention strategies. We need to do all we can to stop these tragedies from occurring, especially among most the vulnerable like veterans and young people.”

According to the CDC, suicide remains one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and is on the rise. In New Jersey, it’s the fourteenth leading cause of death overall and the second among those aged 15 to 24. Between 2010 and 2014, 478 veterans and members of the military in New Jersey killed themselves – a rate of 23 percent.

The bill requires clinical social workers, therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychoanalysts to complete a minimum of four hours of suicide prevention training every six years. The director of the Division of Consumer Affairs will create a list of approved training programs.

The New Jersey violent death reporting system found that 30 percent of people who died by suicide in 2015 were in either mental health or substance abuse treatment at the time of their death.