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Schools, lawmakers demand change following report on mental health crisis

Adam Clark | October 16, 2019 | NJ Advance Media |


In a span of 16 months, Amy Hassa watched her school district tragically lose three children to suicide. An eighth grader. A sixth grader. And a fifth grader.

Every morning, she woke up and saw her community hurting, said Hassa, now school board member in Hamilton, Atlantic County.

“We can do more,” Hassa said Tuesday as she called for statewide changes to the school system. “It’s not a matter of a district of 8,000 losing one student. It’s a matter of Susie’s classmate seeing an empty desk. It’s a ripple effect.”

Hassa echoed state lawmakers and other school officials Tuesday demanding a sweeping effort to combat a mental health crisis that’s left students battling depression and anxiety desperate for help. Their call to action followed an NJ Advance Media report published Tuesday on the state’s rising teen suicide rate.

“The tragic loss of life documented in this story is a heartbreaking example of a silent crisis that is taking the lives of an increasing number of young people,” said Sen. Joe Cryan, D-Union. “We have to believe that these are preventable deaths.”


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