Susan Tellone, Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, this morning told the Senate Education Committee, “Our students are in crisis.”
In the aftermath of Adriana Kuch’s suicide last month, Tellone spoke at the invitation of the committee in response to the significant uprise in teen suicide, especially among girls.
“Whatever we decide to do we need to think about what works in schools,” Tellone told the committee.
“The U.S. suicide rate among 15-to-24-year-olds grew by 7% in 2021, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” according to a report this week in NJ.com. “And several New Jersey hospital networks reported their emergency rooms were flooded in 2022 with anxious, depressed and suicidal teens.”
“I’ve never seen it like this [in 40 years in the profession as a nurse],” Tellone said.
She wants to see an increase in the school workforce, an increase in salaries, education and training.
But the problem is big, she conceded, very big.
“What has caused [the crisis]?’ state Senator Shirley Turner (D-15) wanted to know.
Tellone mentioned constant stimulation from social media and the political climate, including constant school shootings.
Mary Abrams of New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies (NJAMHAA) added that the COVID-19 pandemic added trauma to young lives on the scale of a world war.
Why girls specifically, Turner wanted to know.
“It’s just a social thing, a more fragile thing girls are going through, as opposed to young boys who are hiding it,” Abrams said.
Joseph Isola, Superintendent of Howell Township Public urged the committee, “Don’t bombard us with meaningless legislation. We can’t get caught up with compliance. We must, however, figure out how to deliver services that will save lives.”
The Senate Education Committee held its hearing today on mental health on the heels of a catastrophic event.
The shocking death of 14-year-old Adriana Kuch in Ocean County galvanized parents and youth intent on stopping the increasingly common practice of adolescents assaulting other adolescents, recording their heinous crime for fun, and attempting to shame their victims.
In this case, cowardly, attention-seeking, violent youths ambushed Ms. Kuch in the hallway of Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township, beat her, and later posted the video on Tik Tok to make a public spectacle of her agony.
Amid the onslaught of inhumane and frequently anonymous social media abuse, Ms. Kuch died by her own hand.