Thomson family works to raise awareness after suicide

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 4:02 PM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A Thomson family is raising awareness after the loss of their 12-year-old boy after he took his own life on September 7, 2023.

Jace Simmons’ family sat down with News 12 at Sweetwater Park outside of Thomson. In the backdrop were the baseball fields Jace used to suit up at. Simmons’ mother, Samantha Key, says baseball was his calling.

You could also find him trading in his baseball glove for a fishing pole. He’d catch any fish you would ask him to.

“Jace had a big heart. He was such a big-hearted boy. He cared about everything and everybody,” said Samantha.

On the picnic tables next to the baseball fields, Simmons’ family held up a portrait of him. They held on tight to it as it was one of the only things they had left of their 12-year-old boy. The pictures and snippets are memories of a singular moment in time when things felt normal for their family.

“He was so much more than what we know him for. He’s so much more than how he died,” said Samantha.

On September 7, 2023, it was a normal evening. Simmons’ grandmother and Papa were in the kitchen cooking dinner.

“20 minutes before all of this happened he was in my kitchen and he said, ‘What’s cooking for supper?’” said Simmons’ grandmother, Janet Key.

Janet says there was a conversation that took place where Simmons was upset about schoolwork. After that, is when things changed for their family.

“We got on to him about a school project. He went outside, stayed out there a little while, came back, and went back outside to check on him and he was hanging his tree,” said Janet.

Unfortunately, stories like Simmons’ are not a rarity.

Over the past 20 years, suicide rates have increased 36%, according to the CDC. The suicide rate among males in 2021 was approximately four times higher than the rate among females. Males make up 50% of the population, but nearly 80% of suicides.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 in 2021, according to CDC data.

“If it can happen to that happy little boy, it can happen to your little girl,” said Janet.

The family tells News 12 that Simmons was in counseling several times. He would often have some issues with his anger, but nothing to this magnitude. Simmons’ family says there were no indications of bullying.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office is investigating incidents in the school setting.

“We were so worried about him when he was at home. And I should have been more worried about him at home,” said Janet.

They’re hoping this is a reminder for parents to talk and listen to their children.

“None of us can fix my child taking his own life. If I could, I promise you, I would have. There’s nothing I didn’t do for that boy. We can’t fix it. But you can help prevent it. You can’t stop it. But you can help,” said Samantha.

If you or somebody you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can text or call the 988 hotline 24/7.