By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities mother is talking about her daughter’s dark battle with the hope it helps others.

Ana Plante killed herself in January. She was 15. Ana’s mom believes it’s time we start talking to teenagers about some tough issues: Mental illness and suicide. Her connection to another tragedy only makes Ana’s story that much harder to take.

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As Ana’s mom, Toni looks back at a photo album she sees a little girl with a big smile.

“She was definitely a tom boy,” Toni Plante said.

Adopted at 5 months old from Guatemala, Ana joined her parents and older brother in Shorewood.

“She’d say ‘Do you want to come over and go swimming in my pool?’ She liked to talk to everyone in the store,” Toni said.

At first, Toni said her daughter was a talkative, positive little girl until middle school.

“All of a sudden things weren’t fun anymore. Soccer wasn’t fun anymore,” Toni said.

Ana had facial paralysis, no peripheral vision and suffered from severe anxiety at an age where no one wants to be different.

“Everything was a little bit harder for her,” Toni said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Her family took all the signs seriously, putting Ana in counseling and on medication.  Still, they didn’t realize the full extent of her pain until she swallowed pills last year.

“You think how sad for my daughter that she thinks her life is this terrible she doesn’t want to live,” Toni said.

Ana survived that suicide attempt and enrolled in all-day program for months to be monitored. Then she went to Minnetonka High School, where she’d planned to spend the ninth grade with a friend who had always stood by Ana’s side.

It was Brooklyn Short who convinced Ana to get back into soccer. Brooklyn was one of just a few Ana called a friend.

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“She was just such a great kid. She had a smile on her face all the time,” Toni recalled about Brooklyn.

But, Brooklyn never started school this year.  In September her dad, Brian Short, killed his family before taking his own life.  It’s a loss Ana would never come back from.

“Why did it have to be Brooklyn? Brooklyn loved life. I hate life,” Toni said.

Aware of her despair, Ana’s parents were careful to make sure their daughter had supervision around the clock.

“She was never home alone,” Toni said.

Until the new year, when they started to leave her for short periods of time.  On Jan. 31, Ana’s mom took their dogs for a walk.

“I was gone 15 minutes and came back and I went downstairs because I called for her and didn’t hear her and she had hung herself in the closet downstairs,” Toni said.

Toni thinks it’s time society starts talking about depression and suicide.  Not ignoring the role it played in a father fighting his own demons.

“Mental health shouldn’t be so hard to get answers, too,” Toni said.

Before her death, Ana was fixated on the semi-colon.  It’s part of a national movement giving people hope to fight through dark times.  It takes the place of a period in a sentence, symbolizing a story isn’t over.

“Ana’s story isn’t over.  I’m going to make sure it happens because it’s not over yet,” Ana’s mom said.

Statistics show suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in Minnesota and 25 percent of ninth graders surveyed in Minnesota public schools have said they thought about killing themselves.

Here is more information from the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education website. Here are warning signs for youth and suicide.

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You’ll also find out more about Project Semi Colon and its mission.

Liz Collin