From the Principal

Dear Parents,

On Sunday October 14, 2017, at approximately 6:20 p.m., we lost one of our own — Paul Ortega Jr., SJBMS Class of 2017. Paul died while our Skaggs Catholic Center community was praying the rosary for him and his family.

Paul attended SJMBS for two years in 7th and 8th grades. He was a talented young man who was active in choir, drama, and football. As an eighth grader, Paul had a significant role in the JD musical, Grease. Paul was hard worker who was respected by his teachers and peers, and he was well loved. He will be dearly missed.

It was not evident in the preceding correspondence that Paul’s death was a suicide. This was out of respect for the family and a hope that Paul would recover and return to JDCHS. The high school students were notified of Paul’s suicide on Monday afternoon when it was announced that he had passed.

Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss, especially with our own children.  Nonetheless, it is necessary to broach this subject with your child.  Suicide claims too many lives in Utah.  In 2015, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns, ages 10 to 17.  I have included some resources and talking points to help you with this challenging conversation.

Service for Paul will be held at Saint John the Baptist Parish.  The vigil will be on Thursday evening from 6:00 — 8:00 pm and the funeral Mass will be on Friday at 11:00 am. I hope to see many of you there supporting Paul’s family.

May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Faithfully yours,

Mr. Patrick Reeder




Communication is very important:

  • Be open and honest; use the words ‘dead’ or ‘death’.
  • Be honest and open with children about the suicide. Use language the child understands and that you are comfortable with.
  • To avoid stigma use the word ‘suicided’ or took their life rather than committed suicide. This avoids reference to a crime.
  • Answer facts in short simple sentences without unnecessary detail.
  • Respect their views with non-judgemental responses.

Emotions and Actions

  • Give comfort, hugs, and reassurance as needed by your child.
  • Stick to day to day routine and schedules as much as possible.
  • Reduce change to a minimum.
  • Allow your child to express all emotions in a safe way, e.g. find healthy ways to vent anger, it is okay to cry; emotional storms only last a short time.
  • Make time for just being together, take time out to just be together.

Some Important Ideas to Share with a Child About Grief Are:

  • There are no right or wrong ways to experience grief.
  • There is no secret method that will take your grief instantly away.
  • There are no rules about grief; everyone grieves differently in their own way and in their own time.
  • There is no timetable for grief.
  • Though it might seem hard to believe, it does gradually get easier to handle.
  • Take all the time and space you need to grieve in your own way for as long as it takes.
  • Invite peers over, encourage friends to spend time with them and offer support.

You may also find the following document on Teen Suicide a valuable resource:

SafeUT Smartphone App