Shedding a light on teen suicide

THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF)– Millions of Americans suffer with mental health conditions on a daily basis, and many of those patients are actually teenagers.

It’s been two and a half years since the Sims family lost their daughter, Ori, to suicide. The family is turning this heartbreaking tragedy to an uplifting lesson for teens.

“Even though there’s a smile on your face… are you okay? Are you really okay inside?,” Latisha Sims, Ori’s mother, asked.

Sims said these questions linger in her mind even now– after her daughter, Ori, committed suicide over two years ago.

Sims said her daughter never showed any outward or unusual signs that she may have been struggling mentally: “I’ll always wonder, but I have to understand that things happen for God’s purposes. Ori was the type of person who was more there for others. She was a good listener. When she passed so many of her friends said ‘she was there for me, she provided such good advice.'”

Sims said although Ori didn’t always communicate her feelings, she expressed herself through her art: “She was just very artistic and becoming very consumed by her art work and her poetry and her music.”

Mental health counselor, Cyndi Taylor, said it’s important for teens to have an outlet– whether it’s art, sports, or another hobby they are passionate about. She said 13-18 year-olds face hardships daily: “Oh wow, everything they go through at that age. We can all remember being teenagers at one point. The academic struggles, peer pressures..It’s so important for kids to get help, and they don’t always seek that out, or parents don’t always know what to do.”

The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports suicide is the third leading cause of death in kids ages 10-24.

In honor of Ori’s love of art, her family is holding a fine art exhibition Saturday to bring awareness to the issue of teen suicide.

The Sims’ family is holding the first annual Orion Sims Fine Art Memorial Saturday. This event will raise awareness for suicide prevention.

“When things happen to us, we have to rise up… we have to take action and not sit still. That’s what my husband and my family and I are trying to do– just showing people how to overcome and make the best of any situation,” Sims concluded.

Counselor Taylor says every teen is different, but always pay attention to any changes in behavior, withdrawn tendencies, and rebellion. She says never ignore the red flags.

The Orion Sims Fine Arts Memorial Event is Saturday, March 11th at 5:30. The location of the event is 304 Greenway Street, Thomson, Georgia. Contact for more information.

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