Vigil planned as Licking Valley grapples with deaths of three recent graduates

HANOVER – The Licking Valley community is reeling after the deaths of three recent graduates.

Licking Valley Superintendent Dave Hile said the community is in shock after the deaths of 2013 graduate Tommy Wogan, 22, Jan. 27; 2012 graduate Andy Clark, 23, Monday; and 2016 graduate Steven Jervis, 20, on Wednesday.

A vigil is scheduled for 8 p.m. Sunday at Licking Valley High School to remember the three young men.

Hile said many of the families in the Licking Valley community know each very well, and teachers know their students very well because there is not a lot of staff turnover.

“This is a very, very sad thing,” Hile said. “To have one is a tragedy and then to have three in the same week, it’s just hard for people to to even process it.”

Wogan “took his own life,” according to his obituary, and the vigil will address suicide.

The vigil is organized by Aaron Finklea, who graduated with Wogan and knew Clark and Jervis as well.

Finklea said he wanted to hold a vigil to bring people together so they know they are not alone.

“I just wanted people to come together,” he said. “If anybody else that was suffering from depression or having these thoughts of taking their own lives or anything that they wanted to talk about, just know that someone is going to be there to talk to you.”

Penny Sitler, executive director of Mental Health America of Licking County, said the vigil is a wonderful idea.

“I hope that’s really helpful to people who have impacted by this,” she said.

MHA of Licking County will have members of its Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Team at the vigil, as well as distributing resources that list signs of suicide and numbers to call if a person is in need of help.

Hile said counselors have been available at the high school as well as the middle and elementary schools.

 “Some of these former students have siblings here, relatives here, neighbors so we’ve let everybody know that counselors are available if they need to see them,” he said.

The district has also posted mental health resources on its Facebook page.

Pathways of Central Ohio visited the high school Thursday and Friday. Hile said high school health classes are going to address mental health, and the district is planning an event to have a conservation with all high school students about the topic.

Sitler said MHA of Licking County has a support group for the family members and friends of those who die by suicide. It meets at 6:30 on the second Tuesday of every month at the MHA of Licking County office, located at 65 Messimer Drive in Newark.


Twitter: @MariaDeVito13

Call or contact one of the following for help:

In Licking County:
2-1-1, or 740-345-HELP (4357)

National Hotlines:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Trevor Project:

Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention:

Possible warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about suicide, death, dying, or the afterlife.
  • Feeling sad, bored, hopeless, or depressed.
  • Making verbal threats such as, “You’d be better off without me,” “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” or “Maybe I won’t be around.”
  • Change in personality, such as becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
  • Showing little interest in the future.
  • Making major changes in the looks or not taking care of him/herself (if usually neat, might look sloppy).
  • Acting in rash, hostile ways; often expressing rage.
  • Giving or throwing away favorite belongings.

Information provided by Mental Health America of Licking County.

Found in The Newark Advocate February 2, 2018


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