Chris Christie Signs “Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act” into Law

New Jersey colleges will now provide 24/7 access to mental healthcare professionals for students.

In January of 2014 friends and family of University of Pennsylvania student Madison Holleran were devastated by her death. Her legacy survives today in the form of a suicide prevention act, signed into law by Chris Christie.

The “Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act” requires that all New Jersey colleges provide students with round-the-clock access to health care professionals with mental health training. Supporters of the law hope that 24/7 emergency assistance will prevent students from attempting suicide, the leading cause of death on college campuses. 

The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Kevin O’Toole and Assemblymen Scott Rumana and David Russo. Ed Monica, a former teacher of Holleran’s, and Pam Phillips, a local suicide prevention advocate, championed the law, with support from the Holleran family. “We hope those young adults who are facing that kind of pressure and struggle find a path out of that that doesn’t lead them to suicide,” Rumana told Philadelphia magazine. “It’s important just to say, hey, there are people out there who want to help you. And this is one way to extend a hand.”

“Having the governor sign the bill means an awful lot to the family and advocates of the bill, and certainly to me,” said Rumana.

“I am truly grateful to the Holleran family for their invaluable input and to Governor Christie for recognizing the critical need for this legislation,” wrote O’Toole.

A resident of Allendale, New Jersey, Holleran was a talented athlete and dedicated student, devoting herself to three majors and the track team during her first semester at the University of Pennsylvania. On January 17th she left gifts for close family and friends before leaping from a parking garage in Philadelphia. She was 19.

“New Jersey has set the example for other states to follow,” said Dr. Kelly Posner Gerstenhaber, one of several people involved with drafting the bill. “Our research shows that asking someone if they are thinking of suicide can save a life, and now students in NJ will have professionals who they can reach out to times of crisis.”

The law takes effect in 90 days.

For confidential support if you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Learn about the warning signs of suicide at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.