What to Know
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 10-24
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 is available 24 hour everyday
- Website: GraceLoncarFoundation.com
Sue Loncar has made it her mission to discuss teen suicide after losing her 16-year-old daughter, Grace, and her husband, Dallas personal injury lawyer Brian Loncar, just days apart.
"The disease is never done. The disease never rests," she said.
The disease she speaks of is depression. She said it took an incredible toll on her family and she now hopes talking about Grace's life, and death, will help save other teens.
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Grace Loncar would have turned 17 Sunday.
"She was funny. She had this great wit," Sue said of her daughter, who was the youngest in a blended family of six.
Sue said she and Brian first learned of Grace's depression when she was 11-years-old -- when, almost out of nowhere, Grace tried to take her life.
"That changed my life," said Sue. "Because that's, that became my main goal, was to make sure that she stayed alive."
Before that first attempt on her life, Sue said Grace seemed normal.
A junior at the prestigious Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Grace was a talented actress who dreamed of one day acting on the stages in New York City.
"She always told us that she didn't feel pretty, that she didn't feel like she had any friends," recalled Sue. "And clearly, all of that was a lie. That she didn't feel talented, I think that was probably the down side of going to a school with so many talented people."
Sue said Grace also struggled with her appearance.
"She couldn't take it in. I mean, she used to tell me, 'My nose is too big.' She was very critical of herself. She saw herself as fat," she recalled. "It's what's really sad is the self-esteem that she didn't have."
It later became clear, Grace had been suffering in silence for longer than they knew.
"The final night of her life she said to me that she didn't feel, hadn't felt, happy, since she was 7-years-old," said Sue.
This past fall, on the night of Nov. 26, Sue said Grace had broken some family rules. She and her husband grounded her and took her phone.
"We'd gotten on her, said, you know, 'Your grades are slipping. You're not showing an interest in school like you should. We're worried about you,' And she'd gotten real defensive and real puffed up about it and real angry. And I had talked to her even that night and told her how much I loved her and that if she could only see herself through my eyes," Sue said.
Because of Grace's struggles with depression, Sue said the family was careful not to keep guns in the house. But that night was different.
"Brian had been hunting and usually took them back to the office. And he had not returned them to the office," she said. "But her being the snoop that she was … she knew where it [the gun] was."
Sue believes Grace acted out of passion and anger.
"I really feel like that she acted so impetuously. And that's the thing with teenagers, I don't think they think about. She was angry," she said.
Sue said she'll always wonder if things would be different.
"I feel like if there hadn't been a gun in the house..." Sue said, before pausing.
And she has a warning for everyone.
"I would encourage anybody to not have a gun in their home if they have someone that they think is at all suicidal or depressed. Because I'm always going to wonder, if there hadn't been a gun, that I didn't even know was here."
Grace had been in counseling and was under a doctor's care at the time of her death. Sue said her husband took his daughter's death hard. He spoke at her funeral in December, telling the mourners it took him two mornings to write her obituary.
"Grace had so much life ahead of her, so many people who loved her and some who wanted to be her, but she couldn't love herself," he said. "Why couldn't this be me," he said. His words would become haunting.
Three days later, Brian Loncar was found dead in his office. The coroner ruled his death an accidental cocaine overdose. The family believes he died of a broken heart.
Loncar said losing Grace produced not only sadness, but also anger and questions.
"When I talk to her I'm like, 'Things weren't bad enough for you to do this to me. You didn't have the right to take your own life,'" said Sue Loncar. "'I was your mother. I carried you. We were one person at one time. You have hurt me beyond repair. You didn't have the right to do this to all of us. All of us are just broken because of this. You had a responsibility to try harder.'"
Sue said she wants to ask her daughter why, but that peace comes from knowing she did everything she could to make sure her daughter know she was loved.
"I do know that I did everything, and I know that she knew how much that I loved her, we were so close," said Sue.
Sue said her daughter's room, across the hall from her own, has become her refuge. The room is filled with all the things Grace loved -- production posters, famous quotes, makeup and strawberries.
"Her brother, who she was super close to, Patrick, sent her the song 'Strawberry Fields' from the Beatles," said Sue. "And she loved strawberries, so she wore strawberries all the time."
She said the other thing that helps her cope is the goodness of people and acts of kindness.
"Just this week somebody left some strawberry sandals on my front porch with a sweet note," said Sue. "The outpouring of love has been humbling to me."
Sue said she clings to her faith and wants to bring some honor to Grace.
"I want to make a difference," said Sue. "I feel like I have a story to tell."
The Loncar family has set up the website GraceLoncarFoundation.com to help. If you need immediate help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is always waiting for your call.