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Human Interest

PEOPLE Review: Mother of Columbine Shooter Hopes Her Memoir Will Help Parents Recognize the Danger Signs in Their Teens

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How do you say, “I’m sorry my child killed yours?”

In her heartbreaking new book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, Sue Klebold gracefully and sensitively explores how her shy, seemingly happy son Dylan became one of the shooters in Columbine High School’s 1999 massacre, and why she – and others – were unable to recognize early signs of her son’s disturbance.

Looking back, she realizes that she dismissed Dylan’s increasing irritability, anger and withdrawal as typical teenager behavior – symptoms specialists later told her pointed to his depression and suicidal thinking. It wasn’t until after that devastating day, when she read his journals, that she discovered Dylan had felt alone and worthless and that his rage was turning outward.

In the wake of Columbine’s horrors, Klebold was plagued by anxiety attacks and her marriage ended.

Determined to make some meaning from the tragedy, she became part of the Suicide Prevention Coalition and took on a mission to make others aware of the warning signals troubled teens may display.

Look for changes in sleep patterns, self-criticism, frustration and anger. Know your kids’ friends and their parents. If your kid won’t go for help alone, go with him. At times Klebold’s book is so chilling you want to turn away, but her compassion, honesty – and realization that parents and programs must work to discover kids’ hidden suffering – will keep you riveted.

• A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, published by Crown, is on sale now.