A Mother's Reckoning is written by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the shooters in the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999.
A Mother's Reckoning has given me a new perspective and deeper understanding of murder-suicides, suicides and brain health in general. The aftermath of a shooting, the role the media plays, the effects on the family.
I am guilty of reading pieces of news about gun violence and wondering, "how did their parents raise them?". I now know that a child's development is not solely for the parents to decide. I now know that blame is inevitable, and the media is unreliable.
These are particular quotes from the book that I've noted down because I think they are especially important:
"This belief that Dylan was a monster served a deeper purpose: people needed to believe that they would recognise evil in their midst."
- What I've learnt is that you can't. There is no specific formula that determines and shows if a person is evil or not, whether they will commit crimes or not.
"The process of growing up and separation makes it extremely difficult for children to seek out their parents and siblings for help with these hidden, painful problems."
- "How could the parents not know?", a question I've also asked.
"Exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviour can influence other vulnerable people to make an attempt... Connected to news coverage of suicide to an increased incidence of similar or copycat suicides. This effect is called "suicide contagion" or the Werther effect."
- She goes on to talk about what details are actually needed to be shown, such as suicide prevention hotlines. I was particularly intrigued by this and the subject of censorship. Many of us believe that we should not have censorship and we should have the right to know everything that happens in our world. I too thought the same, but I think there are exceptions, and this is one of them. Explicit details and photos are unnecessary, but let's look at the bigger picture.
"If it can be shown that suicide is fundamental in murder-suicide, then suicide prevention is also murder-suicide prevention."
- They believe that one of the reasons that murders have not been successfully prevented is because people look at murder-suicides as murders rather than suicides, when in reality the main cause is the suicide factor. Although this does not apply to all, it does apply to a fraction.
"Suicide is among the top then causes of death in the United States, right up there with pernicious killers like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and kidney diseases. But when it comes to funding for research, suicide prevention is at the bottom, perhaps because of the misguided and yet persistent belief that suicide happens by choice rather than illness."
- Also a thought I have considered, that suicide happens by choice. "Someone in America dies by suicide every thirteen minutes", why is it still at the bottom?
I know now that people never really recover from incidents like these, that suicide is a bigger issue than I'd ever thought it was, that The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is still largely relevant today, that the media manipulates constantly and yet we still choose to trust it completely, that a family's upbringing is not the reason for everything.