I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, before taking their own lives. It was later discovered that they had placed explosives in the cafeteria, with the intention of blowing up the entire school, and only carried out the shootings when the explosives failed. The shocking act of violence inevitably led to questions about how these boys reached this state of wishing to perpetuate a massacre. One of the most common assumptions was that the boys' parents must have done something wrong in their parenting. They must have somehow perverted their sons' moral compasses, perhaps via abuse and/or neglect. They must have ignored obvious signs that something was very wrong with these kids.
Sue Klebold shares her own experience, as the mother of a son lost to murder-suicide. She reveals that Dylan was raised in a loving home, with parents who strove to teach their kids the difference between right and wrong. In retrospect, she has recognized that there were some signs that Dylan might have been depressed, but he also appeared to be on track for a bright future, having decided to attend the University of Arizona in the fall. In the aftermath of the shooting, she became active in suicide prevention. She has gone to great lengths to conduct research--both into how her son came to be a participant in the crime and more broadly into suicide and its prevention.
In the introduction, Andrew Solomon writes, "Eric Harris appears to have been a homicidal psychopath, and Dylan Klebold, a suicidal depressive, and their disparate madnesses were each other's necessary conditions." On the following page, he writes, "Eric was a failed Hitler; Dylan was a failed Holden Caulfield."
I chose this book as my read for "Week 6 (August 7-13) - Challenge yo’ self! (read outside your comfort zone)." I decided to interpret reading outside of my comfort zone as choosing an "uncomfortable" topic, which this undoubtedly is. It is especially troubling to read this as the parent of a teenage boy. Sue Klebold shows just how much a teenager is capable of hiding from parents, no matter how caring and well-meaning those parents are. Teens who are struggling are likely to feel ashamed of their problems they are grappling with, and hiding them from their parents may be their way of trying to hold onto their parents' regard.
I think this book adds an important voice to uncomfortable conversations we all need to be engaged in, when it comes to recognizing and supporting people in crisis.