NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — The pandemic has had a significant impact on many facets of Americans’ lives — including mental health.
What You Need To Know
- Cathy Housh Wild's daughter died by suicide in 2014
- Housh Wild has been pushing for legislation to help
- Crisis centers say the pandemic has stretched them beyond capacity
“Our crisis centers are stretched beyond capacity, about 21 percent of calls are having to be re-routed to other states," said Tara Larsen, who serves as the Central and Southern Florida Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "There’s a potential that people who need help won’t be connected to help.”
According to Larsen, there has been an 891 percent increase in call volume to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, or SAMHSA.
That’s why the health organization and other mental health advocates are advocating for legislation, like S2661.
The bill which would designate “988" as a national suicide hotline, similar to 911, passed in the Senate; its companion bill, HR 4191, remains in the House awaiting approval.
“988 is a number that will serve millions of Americans and it needs to get passed through Congress," Larsen said. “It would increase funding so we wouldn’t have overflow of calls going out of state.”
Those like Cathy Housh Wild, whose daughter died by suicide, are pushing for lawmakers to act.
“I think that people tend to agree, yes this is a good thing to have. But, we need to put pressure on our legislators that this is important," she said. “I am passionate about trying to make sure we do all we can to help save our teenagers.”
In 2013, Housh Wild's daughter, Cady Housh, was struggling with chronic pain. Despite treatments and testing, the pain led the 15-year-old to skip school and miss out on much. She railed against seeking counseling, yet suffered silently through her parents' divorce. She got arrested for shoplifting.
“No matter what we did, she was pushing us away. Running away from me, running away from friends," Housh Wild said.
Then in 2014, Cady's teammate died by suicide. Three days later, Cady ran in front of a train and died at the age of 16.
“At that moment, my world went dark. You don’t come up for quite a while after that," Housh Wild said.
NEW RESOLVE TO SAVE OTHERS
After seeking counseling of her own, Housh Wild channeled her grief into action, advocating for legislation to free up funds for youth suicide prevention and awareness training.
Housh Wild later supported bills like HR 3778, named in honor of her daughter, Cady. The bill remains in the House.
“I’m just a mom, but I’m a mom who lost her daughter and understands the significance of what’s behind this," she said. "You feel like you have to have some meaning in your life or your daughter’s life did. You know, she was only here for 16 years."
“In the United States last year, we lost 48,000 people to suicide. This is a significant number of people struggling with mental health," Larsen said.
Over the last year, Housh Wild started a memorial garden for her daughter behind her New Smyrna Beach home.
She visits it daily, stopping to water the vivid red and yellow flowers. She admires the angel sculpture with its hands touching in prayer.
“I think of Cady as being my angel, an angel in heaven for me," she said.
She relishes in sweet memories of Cady, flips through old albums of soccer photos and Halloween costumes from years' past.
“I will always continue, as long as I breathe, to help with suicide awareness and prevention. It’s always been the silent epidemic," she said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.