PISCATAWAY - The first federally funded state suicide hotline has opened in Piscataway.

The NJ Hopeline is staffed 24/7 by professionals ready to take calls from people facing mental distress.

Officials say New Jersey has one of the nation's lowest suicide rates. However, concerns about the pressures created by Sandy and an increase in teen suicides in certain areas have generated a need for additional counseling services.

Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez says the hotline provides a live person to talk to in times of crisis, not just a machine.