I’m going to take a risk here and hope that I don’t end up having the cops investigate me for something that I only imagined.
"Professors and classmates were alarmed by [Cho Seung-Hui ‘s] class writings — pages filled with twisted, violence-drenched writing.
"It was not bad poetry. It was intimidating," poet Nikki Giovanni, one of his professors, told CNN Wednesday. "At first I thought, OK, he’s trying to see what the parameters are. Kids curse and talk about a lot of different things. He stayed in that spot. I said, ‘You can’t do that.’ He said, ‘Yes, I can.’ I said, ‘No, not in my class.’"" — Associated Press
The summer before my junior year of high school, I took a Health class. (The reason why eludes me.) One of my assignments – I will never forget this – was to write three reasons why suicide was bad.
Ha, ha, ha. I tried to be "creative" and wrote three reasons why suicide was good. First reason: It’s a very noble way to die as exemplified by the Japanese Kamikazes and the Romans during Julius Caesar’s time. I think my second reason had something to do with maintaining a legacy and protecting a family from shame. I can’t remember my third reason, but by that point, I was reaching.
We read our responses aloud in class. My health teacher was NOT amused and my classmates found me a little more than disturbing at that point. She pulled me out of class to determine if I was suicidal. Apparently, I wasn’t convincing so my parents were contacted and I was referred to a school district counselor. The whole situation amused me. I was 75% joking, 25% serious. I was trying to convince myself why suicide was a good thing and in the end, realized I could barely provide three reasons why. My counselor interrogated me to gauge how suicidal I was.
"Yeah, I have a history of suicide attempts," I said. "But I was only trying to be creative. I wasn’t really serious."
"Do you have any suicidal thoughts?" she asked repeatedly.
"Nope," I countered.
"You sure?" she asks.
"Yup. I’m fine. Life is great." (Of all the times in my life, I was in a good place at that moment.)
When I was a junior in high school, the Columbine school shooting took place. While my classmates found themselves scared and horrified, I sat smirking in my seat. I thought to myself, "It’s about time us weirdos defended ourselves! All you stupid assholes who pick on us are totally getting your just desserts!" Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were nonconformists, and thusly, picked on, bullied around, and teased. As a junior going through what I considered hell in high school, I could totally relate. I found myself in the same position that year – without access to guns, where to find them, and the like – wanting to commit homicide on a mass scale at that school.
I had a hit list. I listed every teacher I hated and every classmate who tormented me. And I wanted to be the one to take their lives away.
I made a map of the school. The places I could enter, do enough damage, and where I could get out and escape with the highest possibility of escaping surrounding police. (In retrospect, there wasn’t anywhere really.) The hit list and maps are all gone. A lot of my anger has died too. I still carry some of it around with me because it’s been there so long, but the farther I get from my senior year of high school, the more I begin to heal and forgive. (I’ve also become a born-again Christian since then.)
Adults are oblivious to the angst, anger, and rage that builds up inside adolescents. If a someone grows up getting teased, parents often say, "Don’t listen to them. They don’t know what they’re saying. Just ignore them."
Do you know HOW many times I heard the words "Just ignore them"??? When I went to school and heard the same things day after day after day after day, it’s impossible to just "ignore them." Try being schizophrenic and ignoring the voices in your head. Go ahead – I dare you; it’s nigh unto impossible.
Everybody damn well knows now that Harris and Klebold didn’t ignore "them." And despite the murder-suicide, at the time, I badly envied Harris and Klebold. I wanted to show my classmates and teachers who was boss. That I wasn’t some stupid pussy they could shove around and make fun of.
So I sat in the back corner of classrooms, trying to be the girl that everyone thought would do a school shooting. I had my poetry journal that I scribbled in all day. My poetry was angry spewing nothing but hate for some of my classmates and teachers. I made Alanis Morissette’s first mainstream U.S. album look like butterflies and sunshine. I hid in dark classrooms and in the bathroom pouring my rage out on paper. My words were bullets that could harm whoever I wanted without the result leading to my arrest.
Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui’s motives for the shooting spree are still unclear. It is widely speculated that he was spurred on by a recent breakup. The preparation that went into the shooting, however, seems like it may have taken a while. I don’t know how long ago his relationship may have ended. After my second relationship went sour, I was pretty angry, but not enough to kill my ex or other innocent people.
It also seems as though he may have been on medication for depression. His "increasingly violent and erratic behavior" also seemed to coincide with taking the medication. Hah – I wonder he’ll be counted as suicide and homicide data for whatever medication he was taking.
What’s the difference between Columbine and VTech for me? I’m past my rage and angst. In 1998, I found my weapons and ammunition through my poetry. I held myself hostage and eventually was able to free myself. Now, in 2007, I can find compassion and sympathy for victims and their families. I’m saddened to see the faces of the bright flames that were snuffed out in an instant. But I can also find compassion for the shooter as well – quotes from the media have streamed in about how bizarre and odd Cho was. His roommate even noticed strange and unusual behavior. The only person who seemed to have taken preventive action was his former creative writing teacher, famed poet Nikki Giovanni. No one else tried to get Cho help. No one attempted to reach out to him – no Caucasian, African America, Muslim, South Korean, Christian, what have you. Everyone allowed Cho to build a cocoon and live inside himself until he burst out taking 33 people down with him.
Those who knew Cho and did not attempt to find him help are responsible for the shooting that day just as much as Cho himself. Society can’t continue to pin an individual or gun-control laws down as the reason for these events. We all gossip about the person who could go nuts and shoot a place up. Instead, we could try to reach out to that person to prevent that from happening.