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Texas family shares tragic loss of 15-year-old to suicide

The family says the stay-at-home orders were tough on Tanton Zang. He hadn't seen or interacted with friends in months. Zang was also quiet about his challenges.

Hannah Zang was in Houston when she got the late-night frantic call from her mother to come back home to McKinney. She didn't know what had happened until a detective confirmed to her that her 15-year-old brother, Tanton Zang, had died by suicide. 

"I was in shock," said Hannah Zang. 

At first, she had thought her brother's death may have been an accident, but detectives were telling her otherwise.

Tanton Zang was a sophomore at McKinney High School. The family told WFAA that Tanton was an adventurer who loved sports. His sister said Tanton would go to the neighborhood park to play pick-up basketball often. She described him as strong-willed and someone who worked really hard to be "perfect." 

The family admitted to WFAA that the pandemic and stay-at-home orders were tough on the teenager. He hadn't seen or interacted with friends in months. Tanton was quiet about his challenges and the pandemic likely only exacerbated the matter.

"I knew he was struggling...feeling like you're [not] good enough," said Hannah Zang. 

"We would rather hear about your struggles than get that call at 2 a.m.," she said.  

The family wants people to hear their story. The family wants people to know it's OK to ask for help. 

Dr. Brad Schwall is the president of The Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology, and he says there have been spikes in adolescent depression and anxieties. He says parents need to listen to their children when they're asking for help but also recognize the signs for when intervention is needed. 

Schwall says we cannot be afraid to talk about mental health. 

"COVID-19 has added layers of stress for people who are already dealing with depression or anxiety," Schwall said. "The minute we see our child struggling, we need to build a team of support around our child."  

Hannah Zang still has the paper crane Tanton made for her -- folded from a dollar that is now absolutely priceless.  

"If you struggle, reach out. Don't try to take it on yourself," said Tanton's mother Chun Lin. 

The family organized a GoFundMe account, now closed, that raised more than $10,000. It will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

The family says it is thankful to the city, groups, and families who have helped them during these difficult times.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else.