Congressmen Cleaver and Yoder Introduce Teen Suicide Prevention Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II introduced H.R. 3552, the “Cady Housh and Jason Flatt Teen Suicide Prevention Act.” This bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Kevin Yoder (KS-03), would require teachers, principals, counselors and other school officials to receive youth suicide awareness and prevention training in schools.
Suicide has been the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24 since 2010. Eighty percent of students show warning signs before attempting suicide.
“Suicide prevention training should be a requirement for anyone working with children. This training will save lives. We want to make it school policy that school leaders, counselors, teachers, and other staff complete at least one hour of youth suicide awareness and prevention training on an annual basis,” said Congressman Cleaver.
“Far too many families struggle with the pain and loss experienced by the Housh family,” said Congressman Yoder. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids from middle school through college – it’s an epidemic – and we’re working to arm teachers and administrators in our schools across America with the tools to help prevent these tragedies.”
Cady Housh of Olathe, Kansas was 16 years old when she died by suicide, just two days after her best friend and soccer teammate, Ciara Webb, also died by suicide. Cady’s mother, who lives in Independence, Missouri contacted her Congressman, Emanuel Cleaver, II, requesting federal legislation for suicide awareness and training.
The Jason Flatt Act was passed in Tennessee in 2007 and made suicide prevention training mandatory for educators in that state. So far, 19 states have adopted the Jason Flatt Act. Jason was 16 years old when he died by suicide. His father, Clark Flatt, embarked on a nationwide commitment to ending what he calls the “silent epidemic”, by advocating that all 50 states adopt the Jason Flatt Act policy. Kansas adopted the legislation in 2016, and Missouri adopted legislation last year allowing educators the opportunity to take training and requiring school districts to develop strategies to identify at-risk students.
“Our goal with The Jason Flatt Act is not to make teachers into counselors, but rather equip them with information, tools and resources to help better identify and assist at-risk youth for suicide. Bottom line, lives will be saved,” said Clark Flatt, President of The Jason Foundation.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015 an estimated 17.7 percent of students in grades 9-12 seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year. Almost 15 percent made a plan about how they would attempt suicide, and 8.6 percent attempted suicide one or more times.
“It is imperative that when our youth turn to educators for assistance, teachers have the necessary training and resources to respond, “ said Congressman Cleaver.
Congressman Cleaver’s bill would institute a uniform, nationwide standard that would incorporate youth suicide awareness and prevention training into each school district.
For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.