Annual Virginia Festival of the Book brings Sue Klebold to UVA

This past Sunday afternoon found Sue Klebold, author of A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, speaking to an audience assembled in UVa’s Culbreth Theater. Sponsored by the 23rd Annual Virginia Festival of the Book, the event featured a conversation with Ms. Klebold moderated by Dr. Richard Bonnie, a professor and Director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two gunmen responsible for the Columbine High School shootings that took place on April 20th, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado. Described as a “mother, writer, survivor, and advocate” by Dr. Bonnie, Klebold’s recent book traces her fifteen year search for understanding in the wake of the tragedy of Columbine.

During her presentation, Klebold spoke about the immense grief, humiliation, and trauma that she experienced as a result of her son’s role in the shootings. According to Klebold, “It would take years for me to understand what happened and why. Depression doesn’t explain what happened, but it’s a piece of the puzzle.”

Klebold explained that much of the blame in the days and months following the tragedy was directed at her parenting skills. Ms. Klebold has often found herself asking and being asked the question, “How could you not know?”, in reference to her son’s psychological deterioration.

In the years since the Columbine shootings, Ms. Klebold has dedicated her life to the advancement of mental health awareness and intervention. Indeed, all of the author profits from Klebold’s book will be donated to various organizations committed to mental health purposes, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Klebold’s book is part of a larger process of trying to understand the intersection between mental health problems and violence that came to define her life and so many others through the shootings at Columbine. By focusing on “brain illness”, Klebold hopes that her book will bring awareness to the mental issues that often begin in those under the age of twenty-four.

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy can be purchased at the UVa Bookstore. For more information about Ms. Klebold’s book, please visit






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