Susan Klebold on Oprah, Columbine and suicide

October 12, 2009 at 10:37 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Susan Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, teases a key issue when she discusses suicide for The Oprah Magazine.

Klebold mentions (in the magazine ‘O’) the parallels between suicide and school shooters and indeed, many school shooters express suicidal thoughts before the shootings and/or upon being captured. The Columbine killers were different only in that they were unusually successful in carrying out their suicidal wishes.

What is the connection between suicide and homicide? I think it is one of the toughest questions in discussing school shootings. But Klebold touches on an important point – essentially an educated guess on her part – that her son Dylan did not discuss his suicidal thoughts with others because “He was accustomed to handling his own problems, and he perceived his inability to do so as a weakness.”

Handling your own problem is indeed a trademark of school shooters, I argue in my book. It’s the same as the expression “Be a sheriff in your own hearth,” a trademark of the South and West of the United States (where most school shootings occur). In those parts of the country, people have a sense of self-reliance and ‘Culture of Honor’ where they feel they have to defend themselves, especially if their honor has been violated.

That moves into the realm of homicide because school shooters feel their honor has been violated by their lowly status at school (real or perceived), and it is acceptable – even honorable – to retaliate with violence.

One other news flash is that Klebold indicates she (and I guess her husband) met privately with the parents of some of those killed at the school. I’m also guessing that she is not talking about being faced down by victims families during legal depositions. I had been told about such meetings, but never felt I had it fully confirmed.

After reading Klebold’s full essay (I’m guessing 3,000 words long) I stand by my original blog that there is little else that is substantive and new – despite what many in the media and Oprah claim.

Klebold’s essay is titled “I Will Never Know Why.” And that may be true, whatever criticisms may be leveled at the essay (and Klebold herself). But I would also argue that certain experts may be able to piece together the ‘why.’ What’s stopping them is a more forthcoming Susan Klebold.

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