Kathryn Lopez

"Compassion is harder to accept than condemnation when you feel as disgusting and horrible as I do," Ryan Loskarn wrote before he took his own life.

His mother posted his suicide note on the Internet, hoping that his words might help even "one person who is suffering in silence."

"In the aftermath of my arrest and all that followed, the mental equilibrium I had created to deal with my past is gone," Loskarn wrote.

Loskarn was arrested late last year on child-pornography charges. He was a chief of staff for a senator at the time. "Rising star" was a word previously used to describe him. Now he's dead.

Looking at how this all ever came to pass should be a non-partisan issue. This is an evil and a darkness that does not know party discrimination. Our media culture thrives on scandal and crime. Behind these tawdry headlines is raw humanity -- often deeply broken hearts and desperate souls.

In Loskarn's letter, he reveals the sexual abuse he experienced as a child, which he didn't seek help for. In the letter, he seems to be trying to understand what he did, without excusing it. He addresses the children who appeared in the pornographic images he collected: "I should have known better. I perpetuated your abuse and that will be a burden on my soul for the rest of my life."

The criminal complaint against Loskarn is repulsively graphic. His letter provides a fuller view of the darkness that imprisoned him. If you're angry reading about abhorrent pornographic material involving children, imagine yourself drawn to and sharing it. You might feel the self-hatred Loskarn did.

"Like so many people who attempt or complete suicide, this young man found himself in a situation of intolerable suffering, where suicide appeared to be his only way out -- the only available escape hatch," Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, author of "The Catholic Guide to Depression," says. "This is a lie, of course, and we have a responsibility to reach out and encounter people who are trapped in this prison of suicidal thinking to offer them a sense of hope. To anyone who feels trapped -- whether due to depression, shame and humiliation, or any other affliction -- we need to communicate that there is hope, and there are other options, other avenues of healing."

Loskarn's letter reveals a blend of a "feeling of hopelessness and despair at his situation and a plea for forgiveness for what he has done," Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist and author of "Men on Strike," observes.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.