TRENTON — Take a minute, change a life.

That's the core message behind a suicide prevention conference on Tuesday, hosted by the state of New Jersey.

SDannaS, ThinkStock
SDannaS, ThinkStock

More than 300 individuals, including survivors of attempted suicide, are registered for the all-day event.

The keynote speech, according to the event agenda, will focus on the national campaign Zero Suicide, which believes every suicide by individuals under care within health and behavioral health systems is preventable.

Research shows that almost half of individuals who die by suicide had contact with their primary care provider within the 30 days prior, according to Valerie Mielke, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services within the Department of Human Services.

Using the Zero Suicide approach, heath care providers can better identify and assist at-risk individuals who are currently falling through multiple cracks in the system.

"Having that conversation with the individual at that point in time, doing that initial screen, asking a few basic questions, can actually engage individuals into treatment and ultimately save their lives," Mielke told New Jersey 101.5.

In a proclamation declaring Sept. 10 to 16 as Suicide Prevention Week in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie noted 811 New Jersey residents died by suicide in 2015 — a rate of about 8.3 per 100,000 individuals. In the year 2000, 562 individuals took their own lives — 6.6 per 100,000 individuals, according to the state Department of Health.

New Jersey's rate is consistently well below the national average.

In the past month alone, New Jersey Hopeline — the state's suicide prevention hotline — received approximately 3,100 calls from individuals.

"This hopeline is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Mielke said. "It's confidential. When someone calls the line, there is a live person who answers the phone."

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

  • 1-855-NJHOPELINE (Statewide line)
  • 1-866-VETSNJ4 (Veterans and their families)
  • 1-866-COP2COP (Law enforcement)
  • 1-888-222-2228 (Youth)

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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