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A Conversation With a Columbine Survivor

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

What advice would you give to people who have just gone through a school shooting?

The best advice I can give them is not to isolate themselves. And that is exactly the thing you want to do. You don't want to talk about it to your parents. You don't want to talk about it to your family. And you really don't want to talk about it to your friends because you kind of feel like they have no clue what you're going through. I know there [are] cliques and there always will be, but if they could just be accepting for right now and make sure nobody's alone, even the weird kid that sits in the corner. You know, you have to watch out for everyone right now.

What would you want to say to their parents or their family members or their friends who weren't there in the building with them and really don't have a clue of what they went through? What are the things they can do to support someone who's gone through this?

I think the best thing they can do is not push them to talk about anything. Just be there for them when they're ready, if they ever are. And also not to take it personally if there's spats of anger or if the person changed. Because this is a life-changing thing. And I think patience is No. 1. I know that when I walked into Columbine that day and when I walked out, I was a different person. And my family has just had to accept that, and they have, and that has been wonderful for me. But so many families weren't accepting of it that also adds to the isolation that the person goes through.

Is that because maybe some families, after a while, kind of want to gloss it over and go back to normal, or what used to be normal?

I think everybody wants to do that. Everyone wants to act like it didn't happen. Everyone wants what they woke up with that morning -- the normal family life.  But unfortunately, once something like that happens, I don't know how realistic that is. I mean, nobody wants to admit that this really has affected a person in such a negative way. And I think the reason why my family could do it is again that my mother is a counselor and my father is a Vietnam veteran, so we kind of understand trauma. But families that haven't ever been exposed to it before, I don't know that they know how to handle it. But I think they take it as they come, and if they don't know how to handle it, reach out for support. They are always welcome to contact me [through] my myspace page. Anyone can contact me, and other Columbine victims are also available to talk. There's a network of people that are ready to help if they reach out and look for them.

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