I’m a long-time subscriber to O Magazine. This is a bit out of character for me — my magazine subscriptions are usually limited to Newsweek, Consumer Reports and (thanks to a ton of expiring frequent flier miles) Entertainment Weekly. I’ve never been a faithful Oprah show watcher — I usually work when she’s on TV during the day. But after my old boss handed me a copy of the first issue of O Magazine to “steal some design ideas because you know Oprah can afford to hire the best,” I’ve been hooked.
I know, thanks to a ton of press coverage, that the upcoming issue has an exclusive interview with Susan Klebold, the mother of one of the Columbine students who plotted the killings, then committed suicide. The issue has not hit my mailbox yet, and all I have to share so far is an insufficient preview link on O Magazine’s website.
However, not reading the article hasn’t prevented many people from commenting on its content. I was surprised to read a number of comments on the initial AP press story where people were absolutely ruthless in blaming this woman for her son’s actions. I’m not going to link to them here — they don’t deserve that level of publicity. Google it yourself, if you really need to know.
However, I have one thought to share on this topic, and I’ll save the rest until I read the article for myself. First, Susan Klebold did not kill anyone. Her son did. Her son was clearly mentally ill. And as much as people would like to believe otherwise, no one has control over anyone else. Not even mothers over their own children.
It’s one of the biggest challenges of mental illness, and suicide in particular. People ask: How could so-and-so have let this happen? The answer is they probably didn’t LET it happen. They didn’t have control over what did happen. One person can never fully control another’s thoughts, feelings or actions. That is why suicide is so hard to prevent.
Yet our society does not see things that way. There is a need to assign blame. And the families of the mentally ill person are first in line for the blame game.
I have a lot more to say on this topic after I check my mailbox this week. Stay tuned.