Seeking to prevent suicides, N.J. considers requiring 24/7 counseling for college students

(Carlos Osorio/AP Photo)

(Carlos Osorio/AP Photo)

A bill aimed at preventing suicide on college campuses is awaiting final legislative approval in the New Jersey Assembly.

The measure would require colleges and universities to have individuals with training and experience in mental health issues available for students around the clock, either on campus or by phone.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey says many young people are struggling with mental health issues.

“We, as the adults, really need to be thinking about what’s going with our young people — and why do they seem to be having such serious issues, especially when on the outside it seems as if they have everything going for them,” said Jasey, D-Essex.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer supports the bill, but he said he’s concerned that colleges might view it as an unfunded mandate.

“A requirement for them to do something, which I think they should be doing, but nonetheless, if there were any costs involved that they found difficult to bear, and if there were any cooperative agreements that could be worked out with counties, municipalities, that might allow them to more easily provide the service,” said Schaer, D-Passaic.

Any new regulations should deal with those concerns, Jasey said.

The state Senate unanimously approved the legislation in March.

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