Sunday, October 11, 2009

DENVER | The mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold reveals that she has been studying suicide in the decade since the high school massacre but had no idea her son was suicidal until she read his journals after his death.

Susan Klebold’s essay in next month’s issue of O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine, is the most detailed response yet from any of the parents of Columbine killers Klebold and Eric Harris. The teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher in the 1999 shooting rampage at Columbine High School in suburban Denver. Twenty-one people were injured before Klebold and Harris killed themselves.

The parents have repeatedly declined to talk about the massacre. They gave depositions in a lawsuit filed by families of the victims, but a judge in 2007 sealed them for 20 years after the lawsuit was settled out of court.

In her essay, Mrs. Klebold wrote that she didn’t know her son was disturbed.

“Dylan’s participation in the massacre was impossible for me to accept until I began to connect it to his own death,” she wrote in excerpts released by the magazine ahead of Tuesday’s publication. “Once I saw his journals, it was clear to me that Dylan entered the school with the intention of dying there. And so in order to understand what he might have been thinking, I started to learn all I could about suicide.”

In a statement with the essay, Miss Winfrey wrote that Mrs. Klebold has turned down repeated interview requests but finally agreed to write an essay for O. A spokeswoman for the magazine said there were no plans for Mrs. Klebold to appear on Miss Winfrey’s television show, and a spokeswoman for the Klebold family said there would be no further statements.

Mrs. Klebold said her son left early for school on the day of the shootings.

“Early on April 20, I was getting dressed for work when I heard Dylan bound down the stairs and open the front door. Wondering why he was in such a hurry when he could have slept another 20 minutes, I poked my head out of the bedroom. ‘Dyl?’ All he said was ‘bye.’ The front door slammed, and his car sped down the driveway. His voice had sounded sharp. I figured he was mad because he’d had to get up early to give someone a lift to class. I had no idea that I had just heard his voice for the last time.”

Mrs. Klebold said she had “no inkling” how sick her son was.

“From the writings Dylan left behind, criminal psychologists have concluded that he was depressed and suicidal. When I first saw copied pages of these writings, they broke my heart. I’d had no inkling of the battle Dylan was waging in his mind.”

Mrs. Klebold said she is still struggling to make sense of what happened.

“For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the horror and anguish Dylan caused,” she wrote. “I cannot look at a child in a grocery store or on the street without thinking about how my son’s schoolmates spent the last moments of their lives. Dylan changed everything I believed about myself, about God, about family and about love.”

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