puzzleannie, I’m very sorry also, & will say a prayer for that teen & all those affected at your parish.
KCT, I’m also very sorry for the loss of your uncle, & will also pray for him. He must have been in so much mental & physical pain. I think puzzleannie’s post illustrates, though, that suicide is a very real & all-too-common issue for teens. Maybe , since your kids weren’t too close to him, this will provide an opportunity for your kids to learn a little more about death & suicide in a less emotional way.
Some people use the death of a more distant relative as a way of teaching their older kids about death & rituals like viewings & funerals. It can help them learn what these rituals are like in a less gut-wrenching way than if it were a close relative. They are then a little more prepared as to what will happen if a close friend or relative dies. I agree with Chovy that this can be a teaching opportunity in a less-threatening way.
Suicide is really an issue for teens your kids ages, & I would talk about it. Get some brochures & look at websites like Eileen T’s. I think they are old enough to sense something is wrong & they are not being told something.
My brother-in law committed suicide a few years ago. My husband suffers terribly today. My kids were all very young, so we decided to tell them about the suicide later. I just didn’t know how to explain it. I was worried they couldn’t understand the differences between mental illness, depression, sadness,etc… You worry that they will worry about suicide when they are sad. We told the kids he had a bad accident. They wanted to know what kind. We said we weren’t sure exactly, but would let them know when we find out. My 3rd grader was the oldest, & heard her dad tell someone he had committed suicide over the phone. She didn’t say anything for a few days, & then one day at the end of Mass she asked me what suicide was. She had heard him say a statistic on the phone, something like there are 100 suicides every hour or day. She thought suicide was when someone shoots you in the head.
Once kids come to you, you definitely have to tell them the truth. You want to shield your kids from tragedy, but it happened in their family. I think they are at an age where it can give you an opportunity to give them your values about suicide.
Most importantly, they can learn the effect of suicide on those left behind (something some teens never see) & open up the lines of communication, prevent trust issues. Forgive my being so opinionated & verbose, but I would respectfully urge you to talk to them…