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Legislative committee approves college suicide prevention bills named for Madison Holleran of Allendale

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

PUBLIC SAFETY: A legislative panel in Trenton today gave its consent to a pair of proposed laws — named for an Allendale college student who committed suicide last year — that provide support and raise awareness for others who are considering or have tried to kill themselves.

Approved by the state Senate Higher Education Committee, the Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act “calls for health care professionals, with training in mental health and reducing suicides, to be available around the clock on college campuses to assist students in crises,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic).

The Madison Holleran Proper Reporting Act, also sponsored by O’Toole, requires universities to post on their website at the start of every academic year the total number of students who committed or attempted suicide the year before.

Holleran, a 19-year-old Northern Highlands Regional High School track standout, was battling depression while attending the University of Pennsylvania — where she double majored and ran track — when she leaped to her death from the top of a parking garage in Philadelphia’s Center City on Jan. 17, 2014.

Suicide has become the second-leading cause of death on college campuses and accounts for more deaths among college students than all medical illnesses combined, O’Toole noted.

He and his fellow District 40 legislators created the bill with the help of Madison’s parents, Jim and Stacy Holleran, who established the Madison Holleran Foundation to help students suffering from depression and may be contemplating suicide.

“We can never fully know what Madison and her family have been through, and it’s impossible to make sense of her tragedy,” O’Toole said, “but through glimpses of her triumphs and tribulations shared by family and friends, we can make sure her tragedy will save others.

“Despite the terrible sadness we still feel, and will continue to feel, about losing Madison, I am hopeful that when we swiftly enact this legislation, fellow parents will be reassured that powerful suicide prevention and awareness programs are right around the corner,” he added.

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