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A Conversation With a Columbine Survivor

Marjorie Lindholm on Life After Columbine and Advice in the Wake of School Shootings

Have you talked with people -- apart from the people at Columbine -- have you talked with people who have gone through it somewhere else?

Absolutely. Usually, every time a school shooting happens, I try and contact at least one major news source and give out my email address so that the victims or anyone who needs to talk with me or anyone who's lived through it can contact me. I've spoken with people who went through the Montreal school shootings [which happened at Dawson College in 2006]. I actually spoke with the actual hostages with the Bailey school shootings [which happened at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo., in 2006]. There was a shooting in Tennessee a while ago that I have [been in contact with] people. And I still keep contact with some from Virginia Tech.

How do you manage to do that since it's so upsetting to you each time?

It's upsetting because it brings up my own issues, but in another way it doesn't feel like you're alone anymore. Not that I want anyone else to go through it. If they already have, it's kind of like, now it's us. We're a group. And we can get through it together. Some days I have hard days and I need help from other people. ... I lean on them some days and they lean on me, and I think that's what you have to do. If you isolate yourself, then I think it leads to depression and anger and eventually a very unhealthy lifestyle.

Within the Columbine graduates, is there a group that gets together, or an informal network?

Not really. A lot of people from Columbine actually don't acknowledge that it happened. And it's just kind of a weird thing associated only with Columbine. The other school shootings, they seem to talk about it. Even with my friends whom I've had for nine years, I still don't know where some of them were in the school and I don't ask. So, some talk about it but most don't, and none of my friends do.

What helped you heal when you were going through it? I know it's a journey.

Not a lot did. I dropped out of high school and at that time, my parents divorced, so I didn't have a whole bunch of support at home at all. And then it took five years for me to tell my mom where I was [in the school when the Columbine shootings happened]. But after that point, since she's a counselor, she had mentioned that journaling helps, and so I started to that, because I couldn't talk about it yet. But writing about it was different and I was able to do it. ...  And then eventually, I was able to talk about it. And that's kind of where that book came from. And now, when I do interviews, it just kind of lets me release it more and more. And I think that it's always ... a process and it's still going to be a lot more years till I'm at the point where I can really live with it every day and not be upset.

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