A bill has been proposed to the Ohio Legislature that would mandate suicide prevention education for teachers and school counselors, people who are often in a position to glimpse warning signs ~ if they but know what they are seeing, and to intervene ~ if they but know what to say. The Jason Flatt Act has been passed in various forms in ten states so far. In Ohio, it was introduced to the House by Representative Marlene Anielski, who lost a son to suicide two years ago. It passed the House unanimously yesterday ~ now, onto the Senate.
As a field advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I did a tiny bit of work on this, contacting friends and asking them to call or email their reps for support, and sending a few emails of my own. My brother, who is active in state Republican politics, texted all the reps on his phone. He called to ask whether I wanted to attend the hearing and meet some folks, but I declined; other people have done all the background work, and I did not want to intrude. My brother and I tend to cancel each other out where our votes are concerned; after the vote yesterday, he wrote gleefully that there are issues on which we can all agree.
This afternoon I watched the video of the hearing. When Representative Anielski ended her presentation by referring to her son as "a man for others" and concluded with the words, "AMDG - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" ("To the greater glory of God") ~ Ignatian code words ~ my ears perked right up. I googled her son's name, which I had not known before and, sure enough, he was a student at the Jesuit high school here in Cleveland when he died.
I wrote to his mother this afternoon to thank her, and to tell her that she is truly a woman for others.