Ms. Klebold was a loving mother who did her best to raise her son as a caring and empathetic person. Dylan’s mental illness that resulted in so-called murder-suicide, a school shooting at the end of which he took his own life, was seen as her personal failure as a parent. Apparently, when it comes to suicidal and homicidal minors, love is not enough because love implies full acceptance. A mother, no matter how conscious and attentive, cannot spot what a professional can. Ms. Klebold did not know that her son needed therapy because he never showed any signs of distress prior to the tragedy. Dylan was very discreet and only shared his violent and self-deprecating thoughts with a diary.
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Even if his mother were able to get him admitted to a mental facility, his psychiatrists would have a hard time dealing with his concurrent suicidal and homicidal tendencies. Suicidal ideation is a stage four medical emergency: a patient’s sense of self is distorted, and their ability to govern themselves is impaired (Rothes & Henriques, 2018). Homicidal ideation presents a unique set of challenges and requires an urgent risk assessment. Handling these two symptoms is extremely daunting, especially if a professional needs to make decisions in a hurry to prevent a tragedy.
Probably the most important point from Ms. Klebold’s speech at a TEDx event is that it is cruel and futile to put all responsibility for school shootings on the shooters’ parents. Dylan’s mother exposed the faultiness of the system that fails to address mental health issues in teenagers and makes access to firearms so easy. It takes a mutual effort of the government, healthcare, and school authorities to solve the issue of mass shootings. As for treatment options, Dylan might have benefitted from a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy would help a professional find a humanistic approach to understanding his personal struggles, and behavioral therapy would offer him tools to stop destructive patterns such as self-cutting.
Rothes, I., & Henriques, M. (2018). Health professionals facing suicidal patients: What are their clinical practices? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(6), 1210.