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Johnson County mom asks Congress to require suicide awareness training in schools

Posted: 3:01 PM, Nov 09, 2016
Updated: 2016-11-10 10:15:25-05

A Johnson County mom wants Congress to require free suicide awareness training in schools nationwide after she helped pass the law in Kansas.

“We can make a difference for other parents so they don’t have to feel this pain,” Cathy Housh told 41 Action News about losing her teenage daughter Cady to suicide two years ago.

When she learned her daughter had showed warning signs at school, Housh started working to require middle and high schools across the country to train teachers to spot potential signs of suicide.

The Jason Flatt Act

Housh is asking Congress to pass the Jason Flatt Act nationwide. It requires free online suicide awareness training for teachers.

“I do think had the Jason Flatt Act been in place,” Housh said, “I think there’s a strong possibility she would be here today with me.”

Kansas passed the law

After losing her daughter, Housh testified to Kansas lawmakers who passed the Jason Flatt Act unanimously. The governor signed it into law this year.

“This will save lives, no doubt about it,” Clark Flatt told 41 Action News.

After Flatt started the law in Tennessee to honor his late son, teen suicide dropped 28 percent in that state. Kansas became the 19th state to adopt the law.

Stalled in Missouri

“We’ve reached out to [Missouri lawmakers], what bothered me there is it sat for over a month and a half ready to be put on for a vote by the House that could’ve passed it,” Flatt said.

Missouri lawmakers never voted on the Jason Flatt Act even though the Speaker of the House told us otherwise.

“We need to save lives. We need to reach across the aisle,” Housh said.

Contacting Congress

Since Missouri didn’t pass the Jason Flatt Act, Housh decided to reach out to Congress members from Missouri to see if they'd introduce the bill nationwide. But no one responded.

“I don’t know why, we are talking about a law that would save lives,” Housh said.

Housh asked us to help. So we contacted them too.

Representatives for Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Sen. Roy Blunt each said they would check, but never got back to us -- even after we followed up.

Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office told us they would meet with Housh.

“We just met a couple of weeks ago. I’m still very hopeful Senator McCaskill’s office will continue to look at it,” Housh said.

For now, no one is introducing the bill in Congress.

Veteran Suicide law

McCaskill did help pass a law last year to reduce veteran suicide.

“We have lost five members of the National Guard in Missouri already this year to suicide. That is something that is unacceptable,” McCaskill said in a 2010 hearing.

Housh hopes someone in Congress finds it just as unacceptable that roughly 100 American teenagers end their lives every week. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people.

“I would just pray that no other parents would have to bury their child,” Housh said.

Resources: 

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call them at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

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Patrick Fazio can be reached at  patrick.fazio@kshb.com.

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