A longtime Miami news anchor and reporter Todd Tongen met a tragic end at age 56 when he committed suicide, according to WPLG Local 10 News.
According to the outlet where Tongen worked for 30 years, Tongen’s wife was on vacation in Italy with their younger son when she was unable to reach her husband. She asked a friend to check on Tongen and eventually, the police were called. The anchor was found dead in his home on Monday morning.
Tongen’s death was a complete shock for many of the people who knew him. His brother, Dr. Scott Tongen, told Local 10 that he had no clue Todd was struggling. “I don’t really think he was thinking about ending his life, as far as I know,” he said, explaining that Todd had upcoming plans for a trip to Canada and Las Vegas. “But there was clearly something that was bothering him.”
“He left some garbled messages that we haven’t seen yet, but there was a simple note that said he was lost and to forgive him,” Scott continued.
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Scott said he believes his brother suffered from a looming fear of dying from Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), which is a progressive disease that also cost the life of his mother back in August 2017.
“I’m convinced that he thought he had it,” Tongen told Local 10, explaining that his brother had been having some balance issues, which their mother also experienced at the start of her disease. “Whether there was conclusive evidence or not, I think he thought he had it, and that may have been enough.”
LBD is the same disease Robin Williams had before he died of suicide in August 2014 at age 63, according to his widow Susan Williams.
In response to the tragic news, WPLG President and CEO Bert Medina released a statement to the outlet about Todd and the memories the station would cherish:
“We are shocked and saddened by the death of Todd Tongen, but we are choosing to remember how he lived,” Medina said. “Todd was an incredibly talented journalist. He spent 30 years at WPLG telling the stories of the people in our community and giving so much of himself to this community. He was an incredible person. He lit up the room with his warm personality.”
“As hard as it is, our news team is reporting on the circumstance of Todd’s death, we will report on this painful subject of suicide and mental health and perhaps we can help one person out there who is struggling. We miss Todd terribly. Our staff is suffering, but I commend them for how they’ve handled this situation with grace, strength and professionalism.”