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Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:43 PM

Susan Klebold: "I Will Never Know Why"

I believe this article was posted on Oprah's 'O' magazine in October of this year. I read it for the first time today and am posting it because whatever people's reaction may be to Susan Klebold's own story, I think it adds valuable information that we did not have before into the background of the tragic story of Colombine.

I Will Never Know Why



Susan and Dylan Klebold celebrating Dylan's fifth birthday.


Oprah's comment on the article:


Since the day her son participated in the most devastating high school shooting America has ever seen, I have wanted to sit down with Susan Klebold to ask her the questions we've all wanted to ask—starting with "How did you not see it coming?" and ending with "How did you survive?" Over the years, Susan has politely declined interview requests, but several months ago she finally agreed to break her silence and write about her experience for O. Even now, many questions about Columbine remain. But what Susan writes here adds a chilling new perspective. This is her story. — Oprah



Susan Klebold's account of the horror of that day as the story unfolded and she came to realize that her son was responsible for one of the worst school massacres in US history:

Just after noon on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, I was preparing to leave my downtown Denver office for a meeting when I noticed the red message light flashing on my phone. I worked for the state of Colorado, administering training programs for people with disabilities; my meeting was about student scholarships, and I figured the message might be a last-minute cancellation. But it was my husband, calling from his home office. His voice was breathless and ragged, and his words stopped my heart. "Susan—this is an emergency! Call me back immediately!"

The level of pain in his voice could mean only one thing: Something had happened to one of our sons. In the seconds that passed as I picked up the phone and dialed our house, panic swelled within me; it felt as though millions of tiny needles were pricking my skin. My heart pounded in my ears. My hands began shaking. I tried to orient myself. One of my boys was at school and the other was at work. It was the lunch hour. Had there been a car accident?

>>>>

In the weeks and months that followed the killings, I was nearly insane with sorrow for the suffering my son had caused, and with grief for the child I had lost. Much of the time, I felt that I could not breathe, and I often wished that I would die. I got lost while driving. When I returned to work part-time in late May, I'd sit through meetings without the slightest idea of what was being said. Entire conversations slipped from memory. I cried at inappropriate times, embarrassing those around me. Once, I saw a dead pigeon in a parking lot and nearly became hysterical. I mistrusted everything—especially my own judgment.

Seeing pictures of the devastation and the weeping survivors was more than I could bear. I avoided all news coverage in order to function. I was obsessed with thoughts of the innocent children and the teacher who suffered because of Dylan's cruelty. I grieved for the other families, even though we had never met. Some had lost loved ones, while others were coping with severe, debilitating injuries and psychological trauma. It was impossible to believe that someone I had raised could cause so much suffering. The discovery that it could have been worse—that if their plan had worked, Dylan and Eric would have blown up the whole school—only increased the agony.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/world/Susan-Klebolds-O-Magazine-Essay-I-Will-Never-Know-Why/4#ixzz2FLNG8SfG


Unbearable heartbreak for everyone involved including the families of the perpetrators who do not even have the 'right' to grieve for their own loss coupled with the feelings of guilt and the anger of the public, often against them too.

There has to be a way to stop these massacres but right now, I don't know how.

40 replies, 5805 views

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Arrow 40 replies Author Time Post
Reply Susan Klebold: "I Will Never Know Why" (Original post)
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 OP
closeupready Dec 2012 #1
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #7
Little Star Dec 2012 #2
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #3
Tommy_Carcetti Dec 2012 #4
ellisonz Dec 2012 #5
maxsolomon Dec 2012 #6
closeupready Dec 2012 #11
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #12
maxsolomon Dec 2012 #15
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #16
maxsolomon Dec 2012 #25
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #29
maxsolomon Dec 2012 #40
riderinthestorm Dec 2012 #21
FedUpWithIt All Dec 2012 #8
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #18
riderinthestorm Dec 2012 #23
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #32
FedUpWithIt All Dec 2012 #30
forthemiddle Dec 2012 #9
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #14
riderinthestorm Dec 2012 #22
bluestateguy Dec 2012 #10
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #13
bluestateguy Dec 2012 #17
JI7 Dec 2012 #34
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #38
obamanut2012 Dec 2012 #27
JI7 Dec 2012 #33
treestar Dec 2012 #19
Cerridwen Dec 2012 #24
treestar Dec 2012 #31
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #28
SoCalDem Dec 2012 #20
sheshe2 Dec 2012 #26
XemaSab Dec 2012 #35
XemaSab Dec 2012 #36
sabrina 1 Dec 2012 #39
lumberjack_jeff Dec 2012 #37

Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:51 PM

1. Thanks for this.

A part of any equation leading to prevention of this sort of crime will include a look at 'what went wrong' in the backgrounds of those who have committed such atrocities.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #1)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:38 PM

7. True. My feeling after reading this article and from earlier reports is that

the parents in Klebold's case were under the impression, and they are not alone in this, that they did not need to closely supervise their teenage son's activities. If people learn anything from this it is that parents of teenagers should be very involved in their lives. Eg, her son was able to collect an arsenal of weapons without the knowledge of the parents. That is what is missing to me in this story. How can that happen without the parent's knowledge?

Especially after they learned that he was capable of breaking the law. I did detect in her report that she felt his association with Harris was a factor in what he did. Even if true, it was up to the parents to make sure that association was prevented and yet, they did not know they had reconnected.

Iow, without placing blame on them for what their son did, for other parents who might have the same idea that they do not want to be too intrusive into their teenager's lives, that is foolish especially after signs that the child most definitely does need supervision.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 03:54 PM

2. That poor woman. I think that's why the father of Emilie Parker offered..

his message of comfort to the family of Adam Lanza.

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Response to Little Star (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:25 PM

3. Yes, I thought that was a very kind thing for him to do. In the Amish massacre, they

embraced the family of the killer to let them know that their own grief was understood and airc at the time, people were in awe of their humanity.

It seems that the Klebolds also received comforting messages from some of the victims which meant a lot to them.

There is nothing to lose by being compassionate.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:31 PM

4. After reading the Dave Cullen book on Columbine, I found Klebold's story to be classically tragic.

Eric Harris was a psychopath, pure and simple, and the clear Alpha Dog in the friendship.

Klebold was apparently deeply depressed, and pretty much fell victim to the cult of Harris' psychopathy.

Harris seemed to be a lost cause; however, I find it tragic that Klebold could have avoided his fate but for not a few fatally wrong turns.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:35 PM

5. Tough read

Thank you for posting.

I think she still hasn't come to terms with the idea that suicide is a social performance. Dylan Klebold committed suicide in the way he did for social reasons and with means obtained through social interaction. It's a complex topic.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:35 PM

6. As my shrink says: WHY is not the question

HOW is the question.

And we know how. He had access to guns.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:57 PM

11. It's irresponsible to neglect "why?" and inquiring

as to possible causes.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:03 PM

12. There are many questions, and 'Why' definitely has to be one of them.

Lots of people have access to guns, and it definitely is a factor which, if removed would at least make it more difficult for the perpetrators. But that doesn't answer the question as to why any young person like Klebold and Harris would even want to harm schoolchildren and their teachers. What possible motive could there be for such intense hatred for such innocent victims? We definitely do need to know why imo.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #12)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:29 PM

15. "i will never know why"

is the title of the post.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:52 PM

16. Okay, maybe I misunderstood your comment. I don't think this article answered that

question, btw. She admits to not knowing herself. However, his notes indicate that he was suicidal something his parents did not know.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:25 PM

25. Let me clarify:

When one asks one self "why do i feel this way?", that's the wrong question. HOW do i cause myself to feel this way is more helpful. My shrink is a Buddhist.

If you can apply it to Columbine, maybe the preventative measures would be easier to see.

As in, how did Columbine happen? Step 1, he got access to guns.
How did my niece's friend shoot herself in the chest? Step 1, she got access to a gun.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #25)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 10:05 PM

29. Not sure I agree with that line of reasoning. Most people don't even consider

how to get a gun to go kill someone. So the question remains, WHY did these people want a gun in the first place. What filled them with such rage that they were motivated to go kill dozens of children? Without that break down in rational thinking there would no second step, how to get the weapon to carry out the evil plan.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:43 PM

40. Alienation. Anomie. Infamy.

Resentment feeds Anger, and eventually the desire to strike back for the percieved slights. The kid in Pearl River, Mississippi, who shot up his HS, when asked why, said "because the world has wronged me".

Go re-watch Taxi Driver if you can. It's entirely about this impulse.

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Response to maxsolomon (Reply #6)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:11 PM

21. Exactly NOBODY would have been shot if there hadn't been access to guns, regardless of mental health

treated or untreated.

NOBODY would have been shot without access to guns. Period.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:47 PM

8. My husband and i watched Beautiful Boy about a month ago.

The film focuses on the fictional family in the aftermath of their son's shooting rampage. It was devastating. It was fiction that could never truly depict the unbelievable true suffering of families left to pick up the pieces after events like this.

These families suffer deeply. The families of the victims suffer deeply. It is just unthinkable.

Thank you for bringing Susan Klebold's words here.

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Response to FedUpWithIt All (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 06:31 PM

18. I had not heard of that movie, thanks for mentioning it. I just looked it up

and I agree, the families of the perpetrators do suffer deeply. I remember how impressed people were with the Amish community after the massacre of their children because they immediately reached out to the family of the killer and included them in the memorial ceremonies, giving them permission to grieve, something that they must feel themselves, they have no right to do.

The is probably the worst pain such families suffer. They have so little support for their own grief, first for the victims and for their own loss. I cannot imagine how painful their lives must become.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:20 PM

23. Newsweek ran a terrific article on the pastors who tried to counsel the Klebold and Harris families

and even the ministers were ostracized by their communities for trying to be objective and help.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/04/10/faith-fear-and-the-wages-of-columbine.html

Two Pastors Haunted by Columbine

"How do you preside over the funeral of a 17-year-old boy who went to school one Tuesday morning and, with his good buddy Eric Harris, massacred 13 people just for fun? Dylan Klebold helped perpetrate one of the bloodiest school shootings in history, indelibly etching the name "Columbine" into our collective memories. Yet the Rev. Don Marxhausen believed that Dylan's parents deserved to hear the message of God's grace. And so when a desperate Tom Klebold phoned, the pastor—a liberal-minded Lutheran—agreed to arrange a private service. This decision has haunted him ever since. In his sermon, Marxhausen spoke of God's love. "God, who knows about suffering and pain and loss, wants to reach out to you," he told the grieving parents, according to news accounts. As he preached, Marxhausen could see Dylan, laid out before him in an open coffin. A small mountain of beanie babies was piled around the boy's head, covering the self-administered wound that killed him. It was Saturday, four days after the shootings."

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Response to riderinthestorm (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:29 AM

32. I never heard that story before. I do remember the girl they mention and had no

reason not to believe it.

If the story was not true but they used it anyhow, that is definitely exploitation and pretty shameful.

The pastor who stood by the Klebolds was living by his faith. What a shame that people are so cruel.

Thank you for the link, that is so sad, adding tragedy to tragedy. Those poor people and a pastor who should be proud of taking the position he did. Christians certainly do not live up the principles of the person whose name they claim. But that pastor did so. I hope he has found peace. He is a good man.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #18)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 10:30 PM

30. You're welcome. It is a really hard film.

I think things have changed some since Columbine...at least i hope they have. I think most in the public have sympathy, if not a clear understanding, for the families of these killers.

I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of their experience. It is a place i simply could not handle.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:54 PM

9. Wow what a powerful story

Every parent of a young man needs to read this, and realize that depression kills (and not always only the person that is affected by it).

It is so easy to blame the parent, but in this case, it might not be that easy. What did she, and her husband miss. Although she goes out of her way to place the blame solely on the her own son, you have to wonder what Eric Harris's moms story would look like.

Thank you for finding this, we should all read it, and reflect on what mental disease can do to our society. And ask ourselves if we can ever really be safe. Also notice, she never blames the bullies. I found this fascinating since that was the media meme of the time. Maybe they were involved, but Mom sure didn't blame them.

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Response to forthemiddle (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:23 PM

14. I agree it is commendable that she does not blame 'bullies' as the media reported.

She hints at the influence of Harris, who someone above says was psychotic (I don't know enough about him to say) but mostly she seems to have struggled with not knowing what she might have missed and questioning everything she did as a mother, even telling her son how much she loved him.

As I said elsewhere in this thread though, I still do not know how they managed to plan this and build the arsenal of weapons they had, without their parents' knowledge. I wish she had talked more about that.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:15 PM

22. They got the guns through friends, who illegally sold them to them under the table

In the months prior to the attacks, Harris and Klebold acquired two 9 mm firearms and two 12-gauge shotguns. A rifle and the two shotguns were bought in a straw purchase in December 1998 by a friend, Robyn Anderson. Harris and Klebold later bought a handgun from a friend, Mark Manes. Manes was jailed after the massacre for the offense of selling a handgun to a minor, as was Philip Duran, who had introduced the duo to Manes.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 04:55 PM

10. I regard her as a failed parent

I know she meant no harm, but it is hard to come to the conclusion that she is anything other than a failed parent. How her son and his thug friend could plot their massacre for months without her knowledge reveals her dereliction as a mother.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:15 PM

13. What about the father? Or the easy access they had to the guns they used? Or

the taunting and alienation Klebold is said to have endured at school? Or, which seems to be the main theme of this article, that her son suffered from depression and was suicidal which she did not know or suspect? The lack of knowledge about Mental Illness in this country and the lack of available help even when it is detected?

They were not bad parents in the traditional sense of that phrase. They provided well for their children, they loved them. As she says in the article, she began to question everything she did, even the fact that she had told her son how much she loved him shortly before the massacre. She wondered if that too was the wrong thing to do.

The only thing I would fault her for after reading the article, is that she, like so many parents in homes where both father and mother have full time jobs and are raising teenagers, she thought her son was old enough to be independent.

If anything could be learned from their story it is that teenagers are not old enough to be left to their own devices and that parents need to be very involved in their lives. But if her son was mentally ill, even that might not have helped. We just don't know.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:54 PM

17. Him too.

The article was centered upon her, so I only addressed her, but yes him too.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #13)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:31 AM

34. wasn't Eric Harris the Bully ?

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Response to JI7 (Reply #34)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 02:03 AM

38. Yes, someone in the thread also pointed that out. That Harris was

the ring leader.

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Response to bluestateguy (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:49 PM

27. None of them were failed parents

Good God.

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Response to obamanut2012 (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:30 AM

33. seems like this recent one's were

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:05 PM

19. Site won't let you read past page 1

click page 2 and it jumps back to the front page after a second on page 2.

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Response to treestar (Reply #19)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:22 PM

24. Click the 'print' button.

The whole article will display as one page.

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Response to Cerridwen (Reply #24)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 11:09 PM

31. Aha brilliant

that works, thanks

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Response to treestar (Reply #19)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 10:02 PM

28. I just checked and it's still working for me.

Not sure why it isn't working for you. Maybe a different browser?

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:10 PM

20. Is she the one who did not go to the basement for 3 years?

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 08:43 PM

26. There are so many victims after these tragedies, so very many.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:33 AM

35. Coincidentally, I found the same article two nights ago

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:43 AM

36. And for all the people calling for increased mental health awareness

Maybe this latest killer was "obviously" crazy, but it seems like most of these killers are put together enough to fly under the radar. Eric and Dylan had come to the attention of the people around them, but they were put together enough to fake normalcy. You have to have some organizational capacity in order to plot a killing of that magnitude.

Depression, among other illnesses, serves itself. It's a monster that eats you from the inside, and it will resist any attempts at getting treatment.

Saying that we can just get a net and pull the crazies off the street to keep the rest of us safe is really naive.

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Response to XemaSab (Reply #36)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 10:31 AM

39. Well, the truth is most people who end up committing horrific crimes like this

fly under the radar until they do it. But now with so many of these massacres and with each one showing at least two factors that contribute to them, one the easy accessibility of weapons and two, the fact that there were signs that help was needed and that often people who knew them say they were not surprised. Eg, in this case, even though the media reported, incorrectly, that it was Ryan, the older brother, someone who knew them tweeted 'no, it has to be Adam'.

Klebold's mother seems to be saying that she had no idea her son was suicidal until months after the tragedy when she read all of his writings.

If those closest to them cannot tell, is it because they are not as involved in their lives as they should have been, or because they are so good at hiding their emotions around family members?

Imo, family is the least likely to believe their loved ones might be a threat to society even if they have experienced some violent reactions from them. The family becomes so accustomed and familiar with their behavior that they do not see it the way outsiders do.

I think this mother's disbelief that her son was so deeply depressed shows that parents need to be involved in the lives of teenagers. This family seemed to have a 'hands off' approach to their son, assuming wrongly, that all was well with him. While everyone who knew him outside the family, viewed him differently.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 12:51 AM

37. If she doesn't know "why" years after the fact...

... then it is a pointless exercise to deal with this from a social/mental health perspective.

If she doesn't know why then we certainly can't. If we can't figure out why, and thus intervene, then the only thing left is to focus on the tools used.

Or decide we're powerless and keep buying guns to make us safer.

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