NJ mother drives conversation around mental health in wake of son's suicide

A local mother wants to make sure no other family feels the pain hers has had to endure. Her son committed suicide, but no one realized he was in trouble. So she's on a mission to drive a much-needed conversation about depression.

Rachelle St. Phard describes her son Coby as "the kid everyone liked."

"He went out of his way to make other people feel good," Rachelle said. "Unfortunately, what we didn't realize is that some of that outgoingness was him holding something inside."

Nothing about Rachelle's stable Mercer County community would ordinarily trigger suspicion of depression at play. And that's exactly the point.

"Withdrawing, giving your things away, staying in your room, those kinds of things. None of those things were Coby at all," Rachelle said.

Without warning, Coby's family found itself dealing with the type of pain most pray they never have to endure.

In 2016, police arrived at the family's home one evening around midnight. Officials told them Coby had jumped in front of a train.

The unexpected nature of the tragedy hit Rachelle particularly hard.

Now, she has committed to educate and protect other parents from experiencing similar pain.

"We need to talk to our kids about suicide and suicidal thoughts and mental health even before they get in crisis," Rachelle said.

In her new role as a spokesperson for suicide and mental health awareness, Rachelle started a non-profit to honor her son: The Fly High Coby fund.

The organization aims to provide scholarships to high school seniors, promote suicide prevention and raise awareness of mental health issues.

Rachelle is also working with Senator Richard Codey's foundation, The Codey Fund for Mental Health, to kickstart a statewide task force and train school personal on issues surrounding mental health.

Rachelle hopes that the memory of a smiling, popular teen with a supportive family, who also happened to suffer from depression, helps change the way we understand and treat mental illness.

For Goodness Sake.