American TRAGEDY

“I prayed that Dylan would die”

Susan Klebold

For the decades that followed, the families of the victims continued to grieve with the fact that their son, or their daughter, or their brother/sister, would never be with him again because of the horrendous act carried out by Harris and Klebold. However, Sue Klebold lost a son that day and she may have even lost long before the morning of April 20, 1999.

American Tragedy follows the aftermath of the Columbine shooting, more specifically how life drastically changed for the mother of Dylan Klebold, Sue Klebold. This documentary is unique in the fact that it doesn’t really focus a lot on the shooting itself. Instead, the creators of this documentary made it clear that mental health was a prime focus throughout. As is the case with every true crime documentary, the film plugs in firsthand audio of friends of Dylan’s claiming how he was such a great kid, friendly with everyone, and they couldn’t ever seem doing something horrific like shooting students at a school. It’s very on par with the stereotype of true crime cases because this is what people hear 24/7 when friends or family \ share their thoughts of the suspect. By doing this, the film creators are already beginning to paint this picture that because he was such a great kid, the only way Dylan would have done this was because his mental health was declining. 

“How does someone go from the least violent person to a committing mass murder”

– Peter Langman. School Shooter Psychologist

            Although Dylan Klebold is the main focal point, the ideal of mental health and being aware of a person’s mental health seems to take over about halfway through the film and carries through the end. Covering this stemmed from Sue mentioning the fact that after the shooting, she had found a journal of Dylan’s where he writes about the depression he is going through and writes about his suicidal thoughts. As someone who believes strongly in mental health and the importance of acknowledging one’s mental health, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel some type of way by them going this route with this film. I don’t want to downplay the fact that Dylan very well may have been suffering from depression, but to paint this picture to the audience that because Dylan was suffering from depression, he shot and killed 12 students and one teacher, is distasteful and harmful to other kids and teens who suffer from depression and other mental health issues. 

            We truly believe that the message the creators were trying to get out would’ve have made more of a true impact if not making the poster boy of this film and message a teenager who decided that him and his friend would murder classmates of theirs’s with the intention of doing more harm than what was committed.