How Depression Drove Dylan Klebold to Tragedy? (+5 Other FAQs)

This article will center around Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooter. It will discuss how depression affected him, and how the lack of proper screening and care may have driven him over the edge, leading him to take part in the terrible Columbine shooting.

Dylan Klebold-How depression drove him to tragedy 

Dylan Klebold, by the time he took part in the Columbine shooting, was an extremely depressed teenager. But what is known now is that this wasn’t a moment of depression. 

Dylan Klebold left a lot of evidence that shows he had been living with depression and considering ending his life for years before the 1999 shooting, but it was at that moment, that he decided, that through this tragedy, it was the time to end it all.

His mom, Sue Klebold, who released a memoir about all that happened said that Dylan was an extremely bright kid. He was so smart and seemed happy as a child. But what she observed is that he turned more negative in his teenage years. 

Back then she thought it was just the transition to adulthood, and never thought of asking if something was going on. Which she deeply regrets. To that, she has said: 

“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.”

What Dylan’s mom and the rest of the world know now, is that Dylan, an extremely bright teenager, started school one year early, and by the third grade was put in a special class, due to his extreme knowledge of math, was depressed.

It seems that by 15 things began to derail for him, and he started to drink as a way to cope. From then on, huge amounts of vodka were used to numb the pain. Around that time, he started to write about how he felt, in those writings, he often spoke about cutting himself and ending his own life.

In one of his journal entries he wrote:

“Thinking of suicide gives me hope that i’ll be in my place wherever i go after this life – that ill finally not be at war w. myself, the world, the universe – my mind, body, everywhere, everything at PEACE – me – my soul (existence).”

He was extremely religious, and even though his family was not active in any church, he believed in God, which may have prevented him from ending his life before. When saying in his journal about why he wrote down his feelings, he said:

“I do shit to supposedly ‘cleanse’ myself in a spiritual, moral sort of way,”

It seems when looking at it now, that the intense self-loathing, agony, and pain he felt set a path for what would happen on that 19th of April of 1999, in Columbine High School, in Colorado.

He was friends with Eric Harris, another extremely bright teen. And even though people don’t know how this friendship started, because they were so different, they were extremely close. Different from Dylan, who was extremely shy and introverted, Eric was more outgoing and had a look that was thought out to impress others.

What came to be known after the shooting is that both teenagers were preparing for this for more than a year. They left plenty of evidence on things they looked up, both of them left journals of how they prepared for the shooting, and even began to make some videos they would call “The Basement Tapes” because it was recorded in Eric’s basement.

Through all that, they detailed how they prepared for what they came to call the “kick-start of a revolution”. And when the meticulously thought-out plan was put into action, it didn’t go as planned.

What was seen on that day, as well as when looking at their recordings, is how Eric was in that to kill and end his own life. As for Dylan, through security footage, it is seen how hectic he was acting. He didn’t use all the guns he had; he shot very little, but mostly just reacted when Eric did it.

In the same way, as seen in “The Basement Tapes”, Dylan may have acted tough, but it seems that he is constantly looking for Eric’s approval. All of that doesn’t exempt him from what he has done. This was an elaborate action that both of them carried through.

But it is important to keep in mind, and ask ourselves how different would this have turned out if someone had perceived that Dylan was extremely depressed? 

The year was 1999, mental health wasn’t nearly as talked about as it is today. And if it is still not sufficient now, imagine back then. But this event has certainly shown how screening in schools for children with any mental illness can prevent a lot of pain. 

Aside from that, parents asking difficult questions can also help to understand what kids are going through.

Depression is a serious condition, it can take every ounce of pleasure a person has in their life. Sometimes ending their existence can seem like the only way out. And it is exactly this way that Dylan seems to have felt. As it shows in his last recording, straight from Eric’s basement before they went on with their plan. He said:

“Hey, Mom,….I gotta go. It’s about a half an hour till Judgment Day. I just wanted to apologize to you guys for any crap this might instigate. Just know I’m going to a better place. I didn’t like life too much, and I know I’ll be happy wherever the fuck I go. So I’m gone. Goodbye. Reb…”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Was Dylan Klebold depressed? 

What are suicidal thoughts?  

Suicidal thoughts, also known as suicidal ideation, as thoughts a person may have around ending their own life. It is extremely important to help people going through this, to prevent them from ending their lives.

There are two types of suicidal thoughts. One that is more passive, and another that is a more active one. When going through the first one, the person may have fleeting thoughts about ending their lives. But it is not a thought that they are planning to put into action.

As for the second type of suicidal thought, in which people around them need to be extremely careful, the person with suicidal thoughts may start to plan what to do. They will begin to think about how they would do it, when, and in what way, and at a moment’s notice they may act on those thoughts.

What are the signs of suicidal thoughts?

When a person is having suicidal thoughts, there may be some changes in the way they behave. They may become more isolated, and irritable, and may have trouble relaxing, behaving more agitated.

They may also begin to have trouble sleeping and may start to have insomnia. Aside from that, people that are thinking about depression may start to say goodbye to people that are close to them or even give away their belongings.

Finally, they may develop a curiosity about tragic events. And focus on news about death, violence, and even suicide itself.

How can I help a friend that has suicidal thoughts? 

If you think your friend may be having suicidal thoughts, the first thing you may want to do is ask them about it. Suicide is such a taboo, that people may have trouble discussing it. They can be afraid of worrying others or even pushing people away with their negative thoughts.

So by asking them, you authorize them to talk about it. This will help them feel supported, and connected. It will also allow you to understand which type of suicidal thoughts they have, and maybe try to help them find the professional help they need.

Aside from that, knowing what they are going through, will help you discuss, with the rest of their support network, what can be done. They mustn’t be left alone if they are in immediate danger. So you can all take turns in being with them. And finally, you can take out of the reach things they may use to end their lives.

Are people with depression more influential?

It can be that people with depression can be more influential. But that is not a rule. What can happen is that when the person is depressed, they will have such a low sense of the value themselves, and their self-esteem and sense of self-worth may be so down, that they lose the sense of right and wrong, and can be influenced, in that way by others.

They can also start to doubt themselves often. Have little motivation or energy to do things, and if at some point they are in close contact with someone that takes over the things they may need to do, they will most likely let them take over.

Does depression have a cure?

No, depression doesn’t have a cure. That is because it is impossible to say a person will never have a depressive episode again, once they feel better. So doctors will usually say that depression goes into remission.

And even though this can seem discouraging to people that are battling depression, or have just started to feel better, it is important to know that when depression is in remission, you will go back to feeling like yourself. You will be able to feel joy again and regain your interest in things.

What is most relevant to keep in mind, as you go into remission, is that you should always keep good care of your mental health, even after you feel better. This will be a great way to prevent you from having a relapse in the future.


This article centered on Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, and how depression may have affected him. It discussed how the lack of talk and support around mental health back then may have led him to this dark place, in which he decided to take part in the shooting.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


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