Edmonton

Second suicide in three months at Edmonton junior high prompts calls for investigation

The sister of an Edmonton teenager - the second student at St. Thomas More Catholic Junior High School to take his life in recent months - is calling on the Edmonton Catholic school board to investigate.

Ethan Dizon, who attended St. Thomas More Catholic Junior High School, took his life Sunday

Childhood photo of Ethan Dizon and his sister, Chloe, who is petitioning board officials to investigate after his suicide, the second at St. Thomas More school in three months. (Supplied)

The sister of an Edmonton teenager —  the second student at St. Thomas More Catholic Junior High School to take his life in recent months — is calling on the Edmonton Catholic school board to investigate.

In a petition launched Sunday, Chloe Dizon, 17, said her younger brother, Ethan Dizon, killed himself early that morning.

"He was only fourteen, and none of us knew that he had suicidal thoughts or signs of depression," Dizon wrote on her online petition.

Chloe Dizon, who graduated from the same school in 2015, declined comment at this time.

He was only fourteen, and none of us knew that he had suicidal thoughts or signs of depression- Chloe Dizon

Edmonton Catholic school spokesperson Lori Nagy confirmed Ethan was the second St. Thomas More student to end his life in about three months.

"We are mourning the loss of a deeply respected and caring Grade 9 student at St.Thomas More Catholic Junior High School," the district wrote in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and school community during this tragic time."

The district's critical response team was at the school Monday, Nagy said in an email, "reaching out to students and providing an opportunity for students to talk about their feelings."

The team will provide ongoing support to students, staff and families.

An undated photo of Ethan Dizon, who attended St. Thomas More Junior High School, where a crisis team reached out to his classmates Monday.
While Chloe said it's not clear why her brother took his life or whether he was bullied, she is calling for an inquiry into what she characterized as a pervasive problem she experienced when she attended the school.

She said she was 15 when she was diagnosed with depression after witnessing discrimination among the students at St. Thomas More.

Her petition calls for an investigation to "expose the harsh bullying environment and elitist attitude found in the Sports Academy but also the clear favouritism towards major student athletes and the Sports Academy."

She wrote: "No child should ever have to experience what I had to go through, and to have my brother lose the battle that I have been fighting for the past two years has angered me to take action."

Personal stories of bullying at school

Less than a day after the online petition was launched, more than 2,500 people had signed to express their sympathies or support for an inquiry.

Many people also shared comments about their own experiences of bullying and depression, including a number who alleged they or their children were bullied at St. Thomas More. Some accused the school administration of doing nothing to stop it.

While Chloe's petition points to the high rate of bullying among Canadian teens, she suggested it's not clear what drove her brother to take his life.

"Even if the motive was something other than bullying, these statistics need to change," Chloe wrote. "Let's swear together, that we will NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN."

The district told CBC News it is "reviewing the situation and circumstances and continues to work closely with Alberta Health Services to develop a personalized plan for this school as a longer term support measure."

Chloe's petition ends with a personal note to her little brother.

"Rest In Peace little brother, heaven has another angel."


andrea.huncar@cbc.ca                         @andreahuncar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Huncar

Reporter

Andrea Huncar reports on human rights and justice. Contact her in confidence at andrea.huncar@cbc.ca

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