Kansas, Missouri approve school suicide bills

Posted at 12:10 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 19:40:05-04

Legislative bills meant to increase suicide prevention among students are moving forward in both Kansas and Missouri.  The Kansas House overwhelmingly approved a bill this week that would require training for teachers to recognize and respond to potential suicide warning signs. The amended bill now goes back to the Kansas Senate for re-approval.

Missouri Bill

A Missouri House committee unanimously recommended a similar bill earlier this month. The bill now goes to Missouri's full House of Representatives for a hearing date.

"I am optimistic of it becoming law," said State Rep. Randy Dunn (D- Kansas City) about the bill he introduced after seeing our story on a local mom who lost her daughter to suicide.

"There is an immense need to take action in the prevention of youth suicide, which is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10-24 in the state of Missouri," Dunn told 41 Action News.

Sharing Their Stories

About a year after her daughter took her own life in 2014, Cathy Housh told us about her push for suicide awareness training in schools.

"When you lose a child to suicide, it's a special kind of grief and it hits you so hard," Housh said.

Testifying To Lawmakers

Since January, Housh and other parents who have also lost children to suicide have testified to lawmakers. They spoke about supporting required training for teachers to look for potential suicide warning signs since students often spend more time around teachers than their parents.

"We've got stronger as a group with the parents coming together and talking and speaking out for these bills," Housh said.

Jason Flatt Act

The bills in Missouri and Kansas are based on the Jason Flatt Act which is already the law in 16 states and is under consideration in more states. The Jason Flatt Act offers free online suicide awareness training for educators.
Kansas Bill
The Kansas bill of the Jason Flatt Act was introduced by State Senator Greg Smith in January after he learned about Cathy Housh and her daughter.

"Help other families so they don't have to go through the pain that she's experiencing.  I understand that, so I think it's very important that we push this," Smith said at the time. "It's one of those common sense things.  Why do we have to have legislation for this? Because not everybody's doing it."

National Attention

This month's Good Housekeeping features an article about Cathy Housh's daughter Cady and her classmate who each took their lives within days of each other. The magazine also mentions the Jason Flatt Act and cites a study that found one in 12 high school students have attempted suicide.

The Jason Flatt Act also received national attention earlier this month from University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. The national championship winning coach spoke in support of a Jason Flatt Act bill that's under consideration in the Alabama legislature.



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).