Helping others through loss: Mother of Columbine gunman speaks out

COLORADO SPRING, Colo. — It has been 18 years since Columbine High School seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher, injuring more than 20 others before taking their own lives.

Still coming to grips with her son's actions, Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan, was the featured speaker at a Colorado Springs event for loved ones affected by suicide on Saturday, November 18.

"The behaviors I saw in the days preceding the shootings. He was going to prom with six couples, he came home, and he danced and he thanked me, he picked out his dorm room for college, he was talking about his future, so I was completely bewildered by what happened," said Klebold.

Klebold says she's still overcome with guilt over her son's terrible actions.

"A lot of our own healing in a murder-suicide is dealing with that piece of it, because we blame ourselves enough, a lot, and then to have the whole world also jump in and blame you too, it takes a lot of personal work to separate that out," said Klebold.

Klebold says it's important for those affected by suicide loss to know the signs don't always come to light until much later, if ever.

"Long after his death, I was shown some writings that the police had found among his papers, and at the age of 15, he was talking about being in agony, wanting to die, he was talking about cutting himself, so he was beginning to struggle with some mental health issues a full two years before his death," said Klebold.

Many at Saturday's event were experiencing a similar pain, especially Beth Allen, whose 27-year-old grandson dealt with depression shortly before his death in 2015. Allen says she remembers the call about his death by suicide like it was yesterday.

"I just started screaming and immediately all my coworkers just surrounded me and I couldn't even tell them what happened," said Allen.

Klebold says each day is still hard, but tells others it's important to try to take that next step forward.

"His death was a terrible, terrible event and a terrible tragedy, but in my own heart, he is still my own child and I can not let that define that for me," said Klebold.

If you're dealing with the loss of a loved one or fear something could happen, you're not alone and there are resources to help.

The Colorado Crisis and Support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach it by calling 844-493-TALK.

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