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Montville Family Who Lost Teenage Son to Suicide Shares Story to Help Others at Free Community Forum on Sept. 26

Tuesday, September 18, 2018
T.J. Sefcik's family created a nonprofit to combat suicide after his death. Photo shows T.J. in his Varsity jacket.

T.J. Sefcik’s family created a nonprofit to combat suicide after his death.

A Montville couple whose son died by suicide at age 16 will share their story and help parents, other caregivers, and young people identify red flags for suicidal thoughts and depression at a free community forum on Wednesday, Sept. 26.

Remembering T.J. —A Story of Teen Depression, Lessons & Hope will be held at 7 p.m. at the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains (529 Newark Pompton Turnpike). The event, sponsored by the nonprofit Community Partners for Hope, marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

The Sefcik family created a nonprofit to raise awareness about teen suicide after their son, T.J., died in 2010. As he entered adolescence, their outgoing, funny, and sensitive boy became increasingly irritable and disrespectful, Wendy Sefcik wrote on the family nonprofit’s website. “While concerned, we had no idea he was battling depression nor that depression was so common in teens,” she wrote. “One in eight teenagers will suffer a depressive episode before they reach adulthood.”

The Sefciks’ program helps parents and educators understand what depression can look like, describes many of the red flags often dismissed as typical teenage behavior, and urges participants to pay attention to their mental health.

“It’s a story people need to hear,” said Mary Vineis, director of Community Response and Education at NewBridge Services, a nonprofit that runs in-school prevention programs and provides addiction treatment.

“It can be difficult to distinguish between depression symptoms and regular adolescent behavior because it is a time of very conflicting emotions and constant mood changes,” Vineis said.“Even if they tell you everything is OK, if something in your gut says that something is off, you’ve got to delve deeper.”

Presentations made by Wendy Sefcik, her husband, Steven, and son, Matt, have reached more than 25,000 students, parents, educators and mental health professionals. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentation. Remembering T.J. —A Story of Teen Depression, Lessons & Hope is free to the community but registration is required. The presentation is appropriate for middle school, high school, and college students. Go to to sign up.

NewBridge Services is one of the organizations that founded Community Partners for Hope. NewBridge has provided information and tips on suicide prevention here.


Community Partners for Hope (CPfH) is a not-for-profit corporation that seeks to build stronger communities through awareness, advocacy and action to address societal issues including  food insecurity, substance abuse/addiction, human trafficking, cyber threats and suicide. It was formed in 2015 by the leadership team of Grains of Hope (GoH), a grassroots program based in Pequannock, NJ. It attained 501(c)(3) charity status in 2017, enabling it to accept contributions and donations that are tax-deductible to the donor. It is sponsored by civic, community, and faith-based organizations in Pequannock and Lincoln Park, including: Chilton Medical Center; The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Our Saviour; First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains; Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park and Montville; Holy Spirit Catholic Church; Lion’s Club of Lincoln Park; NewBridge Services; Our Lady of Good Council; Pequannock Chamber of Commerce; Pequannock Municipal Alliance; Pequannock Township Coalition; Pequannock UNICO; Pequannock Valley Rotary; Suburban Women’s Club of Pompton Plains; and W/HIM Women’s Hands in Mission. For more information, visit , follow on Facebook, or email Tax deductible donations should be made payable to CPFH and mailed to PO Box 532, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444.

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