Shrewsbury, NJ  – The Community YMCA is helping to lead a Monmouth County coalition aimed at preventing youth suicide, the third leading cause of death among  youth between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Traumatic Loss Coalition for Youth is a year-round statewide program created to provide support for schools and communities who have experienced suicide or other traumatic loss and to work together to prevent suicide. The Monmouth County coalition is made up of over 140 members including school personnel, medical personnel, law enforcement officials and mental health providers.

“As a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth development, The Community YMCA is honored to lead the Traumatic Loss Coalition here in Monmouth County,” said The Community YMCA President and CEO Rhonda Anderson.  “The coalition is a great way to provide community members with support and guidance following traumatic loss events, as well as education to prevent suicide,” she said.

“While many think of the Y as just a place to work out and swim, The Community YMCA is one of a handful in the United States that provides extensive counseling and social services,” said Heather Church-Soto, the Y’s Director of DCP&P Services and coordinator of the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition. “The Community YMCA has a team of certified professionals licensed to serve as counselors to youth, families and schools, specializing in social work, clinical counseling and alcohol and drug counseling,” she said.

The Community YMCA was selected in November to lead the coalition, which is part of a statewide network. The program is operated by the Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care and funded by the New Jersey Department of Children & Families, Division of Children’s System of Care.

As a measure of prevention, parents or guardians concerned for their child are encouraged to consider the following:

  • Changes in behavior such as isolation or shifting from outgoing to reserved, and changes in friends.
  • Ask your child/teen about changes you have observed. Using statements such as “I noticed” can be helpful.
  • Get involved and seek professional help.

Parents who are concerned that their child might be thinking of taking their own life should call Monmouth County Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services at 732.923.6925.

For more information about the Monmouth County Traumatic Loss Coalition, contact Heather Church Soto at