After losing her own daughter to suicide, one Brevard County woman is on a mission: To help pass a bill which will require suicide awareness training in every school in the country.
- Brevard woman pushing for national suicide awareness bill
- Cathy Housh lost her daughter to suicide in 2014
- Bill currently in House Committee on Education and the Workforce
“We know by talking about suicide, asking those tough questions and acting on them, we’re going to be able to save lives," said Cathy Housh.
Now, Housh wants lawmakers to approve HR 3552, a Congressional bill which would mandate suicide prevention training for educators across the country.
“We’re not trying to get them to be counselors or parents, just to be aware. That they understand what the signs are," she said. “It’s still something that’s taking our teens and we have to be as aggressive and assertive as we would be stopping a virus."
Back in Kansas in 2014, Housh's daughter, Cady, was struggling. The outgoing soccer player dealt with chronic G.I. pain so debilitating it had her hospitalized. As her parents worked through a divorce, Cady suddenly began skipping school, slipping from the honor roll to failing marks.
Housh said she reached out to her daughter, trying to coordinate counseling. But one Friday, Cady's teammate and close friend, Ciara Webb, committed suicide.
Two days later, 16-year-old Cady threw herself in front of a train.
“You don’t think that these things can happen, but they absolutely can," Housh said. “I’m sure any parent who has lost a child understands the grief is just heartbreaking.”
Suddenly, the story of a grieving Kansas community was national news. Until that point, Housh didn’t realize that teen suicide was a public health crisis.
According to the CDC, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in teenagers, and the tenth leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
“I knew there was a responsibility on my shoulders to help other parents not go through what we went through," she explained.
After Housh sought counseling of her own, she linked up with The Jason Foundation, named for Jason Flatt, another 16-year-old student who took his own life in 1997.
They pressured lawmakers to pass a bill, known as the Jason Flatt Act, in Kansas, which mandated suicide awareness training for teachers in schools. Other states passed similar legislation.
Now, living in Melbourne to be closer to her other son, Housh is pushing for a national version to pass, as her new home of Florida has yet to pass such legislation.
Housh is reaching out to her own Congressman, Bill Posey, to back the bill, called the Cady Housh and Jason Flatt Teen Suicide Prevention Act.
“They’re hoping with some improvements on the language, they’ll get more Congressmen on board," she said.
The bill was introduced in the House in July and is currently in the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Meanwhile, Housh still thinks of Cady every single day.
“Being a part of the solution has been meaningful to me. And it makes me know that my daughter’s life wasn’t in vain," she said.