Open Records Access, When Your Child Commits Murder, 20th Anniversary Of Buffy

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In April 1999, Sue Klebold’s son Dylan took part in the massacre at Columbine high school. Since that day, she has tried to come to terms with how the boy she loved could perpetrate such extreme violence, and to work to prevent other tragedies. It’s Sunshine Week — a time to assess how easily the public and the meida can access open records. We find out how Wisconsin scores. Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns 20, and we look at its impact on culture and television.

Featured in this Show

  • Gauging Transparency And Open Records Access In Wisconsin

    Each year during Sunshine Week, government watch dogs assess how easy it is for the media and the public to access open records. We find out how Wisconsin shapes up.

  • Coming To Terms With A Child's Violence: Sue Klebold's Story

    Sue Klebold’s son Dylan was one of the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre in 1999. Since then, she has tried to raise awareness of brain health issues, while coming to terms with loving a son who she feels she didn’t really know.

  • Mother Of Columbine Shooter Talks Openly About Depression, Gun Violence

    Almost 18 years after her son and another student opened fire on their classmates and teachers at Columbine High School, Sue Klebold is speaking with reporters, giving keynote speeches at suicide prevention conferences, and delivering a TED Talk about mental health and violence all in an effort to, as she describes it, “pay it forward.”

    Dylan Klebold killed himself after he and his classmate Eric Harris carried out the April 1999 attack at their high school in Littleton, Colorado. Twelve students and one teacher were killed, and 24 people were injured before 17-year-old Klebold took his own life.

    This event galvanized a nation to discuss issues of tighter gun control laws, violence in schools, anti-bullying policies and active shooter training in what would be known as a post-Columbine world.

    “The piece that has stayed with me is not the need to forgive Dylan for what he did, it is the need to forgive myself. There is a piece of me that I will never forgive not being the mother that Dylan needed me to be,” Sue Klebold told Wisconsin Public Radio, adding that writing her memoir, “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living In The Aftermath Of Tragedy,” is one way she’s paying it forward to help families cope with suicide and to find her own peace.

    Author proceeds from her book, released last year, benefit mental health and suicide prevention organizations.

    Klebold marveled at her son when he was a child, recalling his love for putting together multiple jigsaw puzzles at once, folding origami and devouring “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little” by himself at age 4.

    But, Dylan Klebold’s personality took a turn when he hit his adolescent years. His mother dismissed it as a normal transition to adulthood. She would learn well after the mass shooting that her son was not the one she knew. He wrote about cutting himself and wanting to end his life two years before he did, and he got access to firearms even though the family never owned a gun.

    Klebold hopes her book will honor the memories of the people her son killed and help other parents whose children may experience mental health issues.

    “We’re very uncomfortable asking our children to share with us just how much they are hurting and what their issues are. Very few of us are comfortable asking our children if they feel suicidal,” Klebold said. “If they’re feeling like they wish they could go to sleep and not wake up because that’s a very difficult thing to say, but experts are telling us that that is a necessary part of our conversation.”

    Of Americans who die by suicide, it’s estimated that roughly three-quarters have a diagnosable mental health condition, Klebold said in a recent TEDMED talk. But she pointed out that research is scarce as to when suicidal thoughts become homicidal in nature.

    “Many people are going to be offended by what I am going to say: In my mind, Dylan was experiencing some kind of a brain health issue that impaired his access to the tools that would have helped him cope with this, recover from this, get away from it,” Klebold told WPR. “In my mind, Dylan became ill, and he was a victim of the tragedy that he helped perpetrate.”

    Klebold concludes in her memoir that her son probably had ongoing depression, and no amount of parental love can fix this. She wants all parents to pay close attention to this part: “We can’t love away depression. We can’t love away these suicidal feelings and thoughts. It takes more than love,” Klebold said.

  • 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Turns 20

    The show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” first hit the airwaves in March of 1997. Since then, it has garnered a cult following and is one of the most written about series in television history. We speak with James South of the Marquette University Philosophy Department about the groundbreaking series.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Bill Lueders Guest
  • Sue Klebold Guest
  • James South Guest
  • Veronica Rueckert Interviewer

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