It’s a chemical combination that can kill with just one breath, and it could be sitting on a shelf in your home. A St. Amant mother wants others to know the risks involved with huffing – the term for inhaling household cleaners through the nose or mouth.
30-year-old Jordan Soileau told his life story through his music. His smooth voice carried him to the top 50 on the TV show “Nashville Star.” His songs are mostly about God and his 10-year struggle with addiction. Those songs are all Cathy Stanley has left.
“Anytime that he was out on his own there was that fear that that phone call would come,” Stanley said fighting off tears. “And the morning of January 8th that phone call came. It'll never come again.”
Jordan tried all sorts of drugs throughout his addiction, but his killer ended up being a common can of air duster used to clean keyboards and other electronics.
Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome is associated with cardiac arrest and asphyxiation. The brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen, often causing the user to pass out. Huffing can also damage the kidneys, liver, bone marrow and other organs, according to the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable. Research shows one in five eighth graders have tried some sort of inhalant. Huffing exploded in popularity in the early 2000s, and the problem won’t go away.
“You have no idea how much you’re inhaling. It can be a simple quick high, to you pass out, to you die instantly, and it's a roll of dice,” Stanley explained.
She turned her grief into action, eventually catching the ear of state representative Johnny Berthelot.
“I had never heard of huffing. I didn't know what it was,” he said. “Her mission is to make people more aware of what's going on.”
Berthelot sponsored a resolution urging the Department of Health and Hospitals to increase awareness about inhalant abuse. It was adopted and read before the full House of Representatives as a tribute to Jordan.
It’s unclear what, if anything, DHH may do to help inform the public. A department spokesperson declined comment.
“I am proud of this, but this is just a start. I want education in all the schools in Louisiana. I want parents to know. I want kids to know what the dangers are. This is not funny,” Stanley said.
Parents should keep an eye out for empty duster cans, washcloths that reek of chemicals, or an abundance of empty plastic bags in the bedroom or car.
Jordan made a chilling entry in his journal one year to the day before his death.
“If I wake up that sleeping giant that’s been in the desert pumping weights, I’d be a fool to do it, and I know that I’ll probably die if I use again,” he wrote.
On stage Jordan called himself “Malachi the Messenger,” singing about the struggles of addiction and his relationship with God. Even in death, his voice lives on, helping others to escape the vicious cycle that he couldn’t.
“People know about heroin, they know about OxyContin, they know about cocaine,” Stanley said. “But we need to pay attention and learn about the things that are right under our noses.”
CLICK HERE to listen to Jordan Soileau’s music on YouTube