ABC 20/20 Episode on Teen Killers
Many of you probably saw the latest 20/20 episode on Teen Killers, the seemingly bright and kind students who go on to murder fellow students. The mother of Dylan Klebold recalls her son’s mental health difficulties as well as his “normal” teenage behavior. Throughout the segment, we get to see a human side to him, his parents, and the aftermath of everyone’s pain.
One of Dylan’s quotes from his journal was “We have guns, I feel more God-Like”. What is missing in a teenage boy’s life where they feel powerless? FACT: 85% of teen murderers are adolescent boys who feel rejected from girls. Adolescence is a time for fitting in, becoming independent and finding oneself. What if all of these things fall short, especially for a teenage boy? Quite possibly: Depression. Depression can slowly start to take over a teens world and parents may not realize what is happening. Depression in teens tends to look different than it does in adults.
Teenage Depression Symptoms:
- Sadness or hopelessness.
- Irritability, anger, or hostility.
- Tearfulness or frequent crying.
- Withdrawal from friends and family.
- Loss of interest in activities.
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
For more information on teenage depression click this LINK.
Many times, parents may think these changes are the result of hormones or even experimentation with drugs/alcohol, which is partly true. However, the severity and impairment of the mood shifts are what make the “blues” or being “moody” more of a clinical depression. It’s important to remember that most teens who are depressed are not typically violent towards others, but tend to turn their sadness/anger inward on themselves (e.g., self-harm like cutting or thoughts of suicide). Research about those who become extremely violent towards others (i.e., mass shootings) remains a confusing and complicated web of complex systems at work.
What can you do as a parent, teacher or friend? Ask about it. Talk about it. You won’t all of a sudden plant the idea in their minds. If they are thinking of it, they may feel some relief to not hold onto it alone. Talk to your child’s school social worker, seek out a licensed psychologist, or if they are in immediate danger of hurting themselves or others, call 9-1-1 right away or go to your local emergency room.
FREE Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255