ALLENDALE, N.J. -- A new state measure named for a Northern Highlands Regional High School graduate who killed herself in 2014 went to Gov. Chris Christie to sign into law after the General Assembly approved it Thursday.
Already approved by the state Senate, the “Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act” requires colleges to provide 24/7 suicide prevention assistance from trained mental health professionals.
“The right intervention can be a life-saver for young people who feel stuck in a dark place with no way out,” said Assembly Scott Rumana (Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex).
“It is crucial to have trained professionals available to identify at-risk students and provide communication to help them cope with their challenges, feelings and anxiety," Rumana said. "The loss of any promising young life to suicide is a tragedy beyond words, and these devastating cases are far too prevalent in our colleges and universities.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses, claiming more lives than all medical illnesses combined.
The bill was championed by Holleran’s family, along with Ed Monica – one of her former teachers -- and local suicide prevention advocate Pam Philipp, who called the legislation “a wonderful tribute to a young woman gone too soon.”
“College can be a tough and challenging time for young men and women. If through this legislation we’re able to save the life of one college student, then we have honored Madison’s memory,” Monica said.
Madison, 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.
A companion bill, the “Madison Holleran Proper Reporting Act,” requires colleges to document on their website information concerning the total number of students enrolled in the institution who committed suicide or attempted suicide in the previous academic year. That measure was still pending.