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Western community mourns unexpected death of student

Cary Ashby • Jan 14, 2020 at 12:00 PM

COLLINS — The Western Reserve Local Schools community is mourning the unexpected death of a student.

The district announced on social media “the loss of a student, freshman student Ethan DeChant,” who died Friday. 

“The Rider community extends its deepest sympathies to Ethan's family and friends. Grief counselors from the Huron County Crisis Team will be on hand (Monday) to support students through this devastating time. If you have any questions or concerns about your child, you are urged to contact building administration or school counseling departments via phone or email,” according to the announcement.

Nearly 10 counselors from Western, Family Life Counseling and area schools, the Western school psychologist and Pastor Richard Forman from Norwalk Baptist Church were at the school Monday. Superintendent Rodge Wilson said teachers, coaches and advisers who are most familiar with the grieving students were in the room with the counselors to make the students more comfortable.

DeChant’s death was a suicide, Wilson said, but students were told his death was unexpected. 

“This was another one that came as a surprise,” the superintendent added. “He was involved in the music program. … He was a quiet but fairly popular student.”

His death comes within a couple months of the suicide of Western junior Damian G. Henning, 17, of Norwalk. 

In the case of DeChant, the Huron County Sheriff’s Office received the report of a suicidal male in Wakeman at 4 p.m. Friday. Chief Deputy Dave Ditz said the boy committed suicide while on the phone with a dispatcher.

“We are offering any and all the assistance we can find for her,” Ditz said, partially referring to peer counseling.

Ditz said suicide has an impact on all first responders, including dispatchers who take the calls.

“That’s not counting the family and friends,” the chief deputy added. “It affects the family as well as the community. … We are concerned for the family and our dispatchers.”

Four deputies, a detective and Sheriff Todd Corbin responded to the Wakeman residence. Huron County Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Harwood also was at the scene.

“As of right now, everything appears to be a suicide,” Ditz said.

Community members responded to the announcement of DeChant’s death by offering prayers and hugs for his family and friends. Sandra Havran, in a social media comment, said she hopes the district “may try to find a way to support and discuss with each other all the love, support and options that are out there for them to trust and use when the world gets too hard and they feel so lost.”

“You are not alone! You do have friends and a community that understand and have felt just as they do at times in their lives. Bless you all,” she wrote.

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