Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Judge not, lest...

As a public service, I thought I'd pass along this link that Slate magazine mentioned today. It is the essay the Susan Klebold wrote about her son Dylan, who was one of the Columbine shooters. She wrote it for Oprah's magazine, after declining many interviews. It is eloquent and haunting. We hope that the parents of deranged and violent people will indicate that they in some way are to blame. Certainly they are sometimes the reason. But as seems true here, this is not always and perhaps not even often the case:  

"His adolescence was less joyful than his childhood. As he grew, he became extremely shy and uncomfortable when he was the center of attention, and would hide or act silly if we tried to take his picture. By junior high, it was evident that he no longer liked school; worse, his passion for learning was gone. In high school, he held a job and participated as a sound technician in school productions, but his grades were only fair. He hung out with friends, slept late when he could, spent time in his room, talked on the phone, and played video games on a computer he built. In his junior year, he stunned us by hacking into the school's computer system with a friend (a violation for which he was expelled), but the low point of that year was his arrest. After the arrest, we kept him away from Eric for several weeks, and as time passed he seemed to distance himself from Eric of his own accord. I took this as a good sign."

Apart from the violent outcome, this could well be a lot of teenagers that I know.

For the Slate piece, and the link through, click here.


  1. Seana, I'm thinking that sounds a lot like my son and most other teenage boys I know, well, except for the hacking into the schools computer and arrest part. It's a bit daunting really.

  2. I think the two things that resonated for me was that he wouldn't have thought to ask for help even if suicidal, and that it was something about the pair of them together that really took this out of the fantasy realm and into our world. There have been a few of these intense relationships that end in tragedy recorded, but I'll bet there are many more that just don't quite go the distance.

  3. Sounded like my son as a teenager too, except the hacking and building his own PC. Just that that boy could do those things, seems he was above average intelligence. So sad and such a waste. I think depression is missed so often, and what teenager is not depressed at times, which makes it hard to know when beyond the normal ups and downs. On a side note -- I was lucky to have the same day care provider for my kids for most of their childhood. She said something so wise once, and so funny. We were talking about if teenagers should be tried as an adult when arrested for murder. She said she is convinced that the decision making part of the brain does not completely develop until the early 20's. So teenagers are walking around with brains like jello, not quite set.

  4. Right, I think the caretaker's understanding has been proven scientifically as well.

    One of my friends is a therapist and she has told me that if you are concerned that someone might be suicidal, you should just ask them straight out. Don't euphemize. Apparently, people in that situation tend to answer this question, put plainly, truthfully.

    Although, of course, I have no idea how anyone would know.

  5. Hi Seana, the anonymous comment was me. Sorry, I forgot to sign my name. That would be a difficult question to ask someone, but obviously could be crucial. I hope I would be that observant, if ever necessary. Janet

  6. Janet, I figured it was you as you had just commented in the other blog, but didn't want to assume.

    I think that maybe if we have an awareness that anybody might be contemplating it, it might make us a bit more compassionate towards each other. Though it's a hard thing to practice all the time, I know.

  7. Well said, and so true. Janet