In an effort to promote suicide prevention and encourage youth and young adults to communicate creatively about the difficult times they're experiencing, the University of Medicine and Dentistry's Traumatic Loss Coalitions for Youth and Young Adults Program (TLC) and the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Services have launched a peer-to-peer website, Jersey Voice.

Flickr User Samantha Marx

"The idea is to focus on hope, help and strength. We want to stay away from shock and trauma. When you've been through a difficult time, the take-home message is how did you get through it?" said Donna Amundson, TLC Program Director. "We want to show youth and young adults other ways of coping with difficult times in life. It's 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 and letting us do what we need to do and say what we need to say. It's about using our own unique voices to help each other out, recognize our strengths, and inspire hope."

"We want to reach youth before they begin to feel hopeless and helpless," said Amundson. "Kids at that age are more drawn to the opinions of their peers. The website provides a platform where individuals can share their stories of hope, help and strength and getting through difficult times 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."

The website includes a series of tools and contacts, including NJ Youth Helpline (888-222-2228), which is a confidential and anonymous helpline for youth and young adults in New Jersey.

A blog also will be added for people to share their stories and get responses from peers who can relate or may have been through similar experiences. As part of the launch, Jerseyvoice.net is sponsoring a statewide social media festival during which youth and young adults are invited to submit stories, poems, music, songs, video and photography.