The Lewy Body Dementia Association is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Miami-based news anchor, Todd Tongen. Television station WPLG reported their colleague committed suicide. According to his brother, Dr. Scott Tongen, their mother had died with Lewy body dementia (LBD) and his brother suspected he had he condition as well though it had not been diagnosed.
Lewy body dementia is a progressive neurological condition that affects an estimated 1.4 million Americans, second only to Alzheimer’s disease. Frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, LBD affects thinking, movement, behavior, sleep and automatically regulated processes like blood pressure.
Research suggests suicide is uncommon in LBD, but that depression, anxiety and other mood and behavioral changes are very common. "People with LBD may have lower amounts of a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which can result in depression," stated Angela Taylor, LBDA's Senior Director of Research and Advocac. “It’s essential for people who suspect they have LBD to pursue a diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. This can make a significant difference in their quality of life. Early treatment of cognitive and mood symptoms is strongly encouraged as soon as the diagnosis is made.”
People experiencing any changes in their cognitive ability should consult a doctor to determine the cause and begin treatment. Simple things like vitamin deficiencies or medication interactions can cause cognitive changes that revert back to normal after being treated.
If a neurological condition like LBD is suspected, further testing and consultation with a neurologist is important. Once diagnosed, a comprehensive care plan that includes education and support is encouraged.
If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.