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A Tribute to Tom

by Jack B. Spooner
Certain media outlets, including the Post Dispatch, are using the tragic and heart wrenching passing of our friend and colleague, a dedicated family man and public servant, to advertise a private matter and to damage Republicans.  If the appalling use of a private voice mail message wasn’t enough, the inexcusable attempt to manufacture reasons to explain why Tom took his own life is reprehensible.
          Rather than show compassion for the devastating loss of a husband and father whose life was dedicated to the betterment of our communities and state, a shameless effort is being made to convert a tragedy to a byline designed to promote media outlets.  The focus should be on consoling a wife and children and in honoring a dedicated public official, not in using the “public figure” excuse to convert a horrific event into an opportunity to promote readership and fan the flame of anti-Republican stereotypes.

Much is speculated about the religious remark that disturbed Tom.  While I had the honor of knowing Tom through our campaign appearances, nobody can offer insight into Tom’s mindset.  However, before accepting the position of State Party Finance Chairman I had numerous conversations with the person mentioned to be the source of Tom’s anguish, and I can report that this person strongly supports and defends our constitution and will always fight to protect the freedoms and liberties it provides – including the freedom of religion – and that the being a Republican is based on core principles and values, not on religion or skin color, and that we as Republicans can differ on wants and needs yet still share essential beliefs.

          Over the upcoming weeks there will likely be more ugly rumors that the media will use to increase profits and belittle Republicans.  My heart bleeds for Tom and the thousands of Tom’s throughout our communities that each year take their own life.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that someone in our country dies by suicide every 12.8 minutes.  I cannot conceive the depths of one’s darkness leading to suicide, but I do know that nothing will be changed by reporting the reasons why Tom took his own life.  Simply, Tom should be given privacy and the reasons for his suicide should remain between Tom, his family and his God.
          As we move forward in life, let’s not try to rationalize the whys of Tom’s death, but instead concentrate on what’s; what can we do to console Tom’s family and friends, what can we do to honor Tom’s legacy, what can we  do to spread the message that suicide is not an option to solve problems, and what can we do to remind our friends and loved ones that we care, that we are there for them, and that we will always provide unconditional support if suicide becomes a thought.