ACSU in mourning after student takes his own life

SALISBURY — The Middlebury Union High School community is mourning the death of 9th-grader Walter “TJ” Duncanson IV, who took his own life on Dec. 26. He was 14.
“A tragic event has befallen the Addison Central Supervisory Union community,” district Superintendent Peter Burrows wrote in a letter to parents regarding Duncanson’s death. “TJ was a spirited, dedicated, and passionate person, and his untimely death has left a void in our community.”
TJ’s mom, Alysia Bushey Duncanson, provided a few details about the tragedy on her son’s and her own Facebook sites.
“With deep sadness we have lost an Awesome kid,” she wrote. “TJ Duncanson has lost his battle with depression, an illness that he kept secret. He will forever and always be in our hearts and memories. The funny, happy guy that we all knew had awesome dreams to become an actor and father. We love you forever.”
TJ’s obituary, appearing in our online edition here, described him as being active with the MUHS drama department and dance team.
“He loved photography, playing cards or games with family, hanging with friends and most of all baking,” the obituary states. “TJ was a giver not a taker; he gave his all to his friends and family. Anything they needed he was always there for them and he never asked for anything in return.”
A celebration of TJ’s life will be held on Friday, Jan. 2, at the American Legion hall in Middlebury from 2 to 6 p.m.
Burrows said various supports for the ACSU community will be offered on campus throughout the weeks to come, including drop-in counselor support, a detailed letter to MUHS parents outlining ways to support their children through this crisis, as well as coordinated support for students and parents with the Counseling Service of Addison County as students return to school this coming Monday.
Many tributes can be found on TJ Duncanson’s Facebook page.
“You were always the light at the end of my tunnel you always made me feel better,” one of his friends wrote. “You were someone I could always talk to, about anything that was wrong. I’m going to miss you. I’m going to send you a message every day. I wish we hadn’t stopped talking it’s been a few weeks. I’m going to miss your positive attitude and your warm hugs.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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