the killer at thurston high
Join the Discussion: What are your thoughts on this story? Are there any  answers or lessons that can be drawn from it?

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Dear FRONTLINE,

Kip's parents should have packed him off to a private school after his initial attack on another child when he was hardly out of grammar school. Perhaps, there, discipline and responsibility could have been imposed instead of the parent's reapeated instances of spineless permissiveness.

The very idea of allowing someone as obviously unbalanced as Kip to amass weapons such as were found in the home,(many purchased with the Father's blessings) is totally incomprehensible!! If you plant onions, don't expect daisies to appear in the spring!

Vada Palma

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am appauled at the sentencing. This kid has a mental disorder that was never dealt with properly.

My husband is Schizoaffective and I comprehend what Kip must of been going through. He should been institutionalized for life maybe but given medication to help relieve the symptoms and then go from there. You can not punish someone when they werent even aware mentally of what was happening. Phsycologically he was not there he was lead by voices.

VELAZQUEZ
BERWYN, ILLINOIS

Dear FRONTLINE,

I'm not convinced that the school shootings in Thurston and Columbine are related more than coincidence. However, I am distressed that there are common threads of alientation, anger, and fear that leads children in those horribly difficult years to choose dramatic episodes of violence and murder. Being a father of young children, the thought of exposing them to the fear and violence in public schools as your program describes terrifies me.

I think understanding the root cause of these recent events is a much more important question to answer and I would have thought the program could have been far more positive by driving a discussion with therapists, educators, and other experts on the root causes of this epidemic rather than the the blow-by-blow drama of the horror at Thurston High School.


Sean Bethune

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have just finished watching this shocking documentary! My heart goes out to all the victims involved..but mostly to Kip. I am 19 years old and have seen first hand the toll depression can take on people. It's very apparent that kip was depressed and needed help.

To hear people blame his parents is just crazy. As a parent you always hope for the best for your children. His parents did not give a gun to their troubled teen to kill people. I feel they truly believed that by giving him a gun and teaching him to use it responsibly they were helping him. My little brother who is 17 acts out all the time. In my eyes the best thing to do would be to make him move out and he will either sink or swim. But my parents can not see it that way. Why? Because as a parent you always hold on to that little bit of hope that "your little boy will return to you" and act as he once did. I imagine this is how Bill and Faith felt. I would also like to commend Kip's sister! What a courageous young lady! I am glad that Kip has someone on his side and I hope he finally understands he is not alone! My thoughts and Prayers are with him and his victims! My god bless them all!


Minden, Louisiana

Dear FRONTLINE,

I would like to commend Kristin Kinkel on her candor. Hearing her poise thru her grief touched me. She, more than any other part of the piece, moved me. I hope that she continues down a path that brings her peace.

Brad Berridge
Nashville, TN

Dear FRONTLINE,

After seeing this program for the 2nd time, I am again left with the feeling that there was something missing from the story.
What was the relationship between Kip and his parents? Was he ignored by parents who were too busy and too out of touch with the reality of raising children in these times? It seems that they were overachievers and possibly ashamed with the fact that they had a "less than perfect" son, as compared with his sister who seemed perfect by comparison.
The scene that started this thinking for me was during their home movies as Kip and his sister were doing the handstands. She excelled but he failed. Of course being older and more experienced, she seemed to do it effortlessly. What seems odd was the comments by Kips father, hardly recognizing Kip's effort. Maybe it's just me, but there seemed to be something in his voice as well as his dialogue that led me to think this man is not very proud of his son and is going through the motions.
One other point is, how many of these shooters come from well-to-do families with no real connection or disciplinary control over their children? Quite a few, I believe. It's not just the music, or the games so much that leads troubled kids down the wrong path, but the lack of love, respect and discipline.
They are after all still kids, even though they are desperately trying to be more. Who is guiding them? Who is influencing them? If it's not the parents, they will get it from the ones that seem to care and relate to them.

Kip cried out but I don't think people were really listening. Think about it, if your son was having that many problems,had no friends, had an interest in explosives and was listening to Marilyn Manson, would you buy him some guns??

Rich Dickinson
Brooklyn, NY

Dear FRONTLINE,

In the film the music Kip Kinkel put on continuous play after killing his parents was described as being from the soundtrack of a film version of "Romeo and Juliet," and the point had previously been made that "Romeo and Juliet" had significance for Kip. What was not mentioned was that the music itself was the "Liebestod" from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde." The translation of "Liebestod" is "love's death."

Nick DiToro
Minneapolis, MN

Dear FRONTLINE,

There certainly is a lesson to be learned here. This boy has schizophrenia. We need to be diagnosing these kids. It's a tragedy all around and Kip is just as much a victim. We're in the dark ages when it comes to diagnosing mental illness. This whole thing could have been prevented if the right questions were asked and the right techniques and medications applied.

We must insist that mental health checks be done in our schools. There are computer programs that can detect when a child first starts to show signs of depression or psychosis. And we as parents must educate ourselves to help identify symptoms of mental as well as physical illnesses and get our children the help they need.

Diana Bowen
Salem, Oregon

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched Frontline this evening and have read much of the testimony of the psychologists that was provided on the web site. My heart aches for those whom Kip killed (and their families) and for those who were exposed to the violence he expressed in such a horrendous way.

It is hard to believe that a psychologist would see a teen with his propensity for violence and obsessiveness with guns and bombs, for only a few sessions. The sources of these behaviors don't just go away with a few sessions, especially when one is involved in making and setting off explosives to relieve stress,focusing on knives and guns, and throwing rocks from an overpass, etc.


I feel the mental health system did him a real injustice. Medication should have been monitored and adjusted and my feeling is that a psychiatrist should have been involved (prescribing and doing testing and follow up) rather than a psychologist.The fact is that a psychologist can't prescribe medication so that is why Kip's family doctor did so. A psychiatrist could have, I believe, been more atuned to the aspects of a serious mental illness and adapt the medication accordingly.

Also, the father did not attend the sessions (only the mother). Wonder if the outcome might have been different if the whole family who was obviously dysfunctional, had been treated?

The psychologist did a good job but seems like the follow through was not sufficient. Anger doesn't just well up so deeply and then go away in a few sessions.And to admit hallucinations is not something expressed until trust is built up (if then!).This all takes time.

I have worked with the mentally ill and my heart goes out to them. They are truly tortured souls when adequate help is not provided.

It is always easier in hindsight to place blame, but in this case it seems it was a failure all the way around, partially because of lack of knowledge of how to deal with helping him. When he was written up for shouting something to the effect of "God damn the voice inside my head" it was a real cry for help. If only someone had realized that time was growing short and he was getting to the breaking point.

Was amazed at Kip's sister and how she seems to have survived the trauma of losing her parents and brother. God must be holding her in the palm of His hand!

Toni Anderson
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Dear FRONTLINE,

Wow. After reading Kip's writings in his journal I had to thank God. I too have a son named Kip and at the age of 13 he started writing poems and songs about hate, never being understood and of death.It went on for 3 years. He was a respectful kid for some reason he didn't feel important. Strange. It was God you saved my child from going down the wrong path. Because I too did everything in my power to make my child a postive child again.

Billie Teegardin
OKC, Oklahoma

Dear FRONTLINE,

Clearly Kip was mentally ill. That can happen anywhere, anytime. In addition most fifteen year olds can feel serious confusion.

What has amplified this particular case to a larger tragedy for others is a culture which places too much value on guns and refuses to rationally control them. The family clearly did not know how to say no regarding this at an early stage. Maybe they should not have been put in this situation? Maybe the politicians should show some leadership.

In addition we are not doing enough to close the gap between the self-image of male and female in this country. We need to give serious thought to the way we bring up boys. There is a lot of unnecessary teenage tension.

There are other cultures in this world. We need to respect them more and learn from them.

Tragedies happen everywhere but not all of them are caused ultimately by the US gun industries profit motive like this one.

Kenneth Harvey
Camden, SC

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a middle school teacher, and besides the easy access to high powered guns, there is another component to this problem. Teachers, counselor, and
adminstrators have to walk on egg shells when addressing student problems.
God forbid, you describe a teen or adolescent as dangerous or needing serious
help. Your immediately accused of being unprofessional or worse
biased.

Parents refuse to hear it and school districts are afraid of the law suits.
Everyone is afraid to speak straight up about the behaviors teachers see everyday. As a teacher, we are instructed to use a whole litany of words and phrases to be politcally correct, not to offend anybody and talk around every kind of problem. If you say a child needs some serious help, then your accused of denying that the child his right to have access or be included with his/her
regular peer group--regardless of the threat they pose or problems they incite.


Many parents wear blinders when it comes to their own children. They all claim then know them best (and their child never lies), when many are really disconnected or flat-out do not have a clue and fooling themselves.

I don't believe popular culture (the music, TV, video games) have that great of an effect. Yes, it influences how they dress and look, or what they say;
but not the core values about right and wrong, good and evil, or life and death.
That comes from something much deeper--the environment at home, good early bonding and a sense of what it means to be honorable and honest.


Ted kurland
Houston, TX

Dear FRONTLINE,

About a month ago, a young boy (8 yrs, I believe) committed suicide in Georgia. He had recently been diagnosed with a learning disability. How much pressure is placed on our children to compete, compete, compete from the time they enter school? How hopeless must this young boy have felt, knowing that he, himself, could not compete? If he had lived to his teen years, doesn't it seem likely that his self-hatred might have led to killing others as well?

I, myself, attempted suicide as a teenager---as a girl, I chose to take out my rage on myself, rather than others. Watching Kip's story made me wonder what might have been, had I been born male. Of course what he did was wrong, no one would argue with that. But I fear that we are compounding this tragedy when we react with calls for vengeance, in effect lashing out as a result of our pain and frustration...exactly as Kip himself did.

Marjorie Baldwin

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am a 14 year old girl. While reading these letters of discussion about the shootings at Thurton, I was appalled at the number of people ignoring the fact that there are so many of these people out there. We (yes we; I have been in Kip's situation, but to a lesser degree) don't know what to do and we're so lost. What about Kip's girlfriend, who wouldn't help him? What about his psyciatrist, who got him even more involved with guns? Yes, I agree that Kip was wrong when he killed these people, and that he should be held responsible, and that there's nothing wrong with being angry at him. But don't hate Kip. Kip had problems, and anyone who has ever experianced what he was going through can say that maybe he and all of his victims could have been saved if someone had actually showed him some understanding and compassion. Hate is what started this. Anger is what started this. Confusion. Loneliness. Insecurity.

I had never even heard Kip's name, or anything about this tragedy. But when I watched this show, tears came to my eyes. Some of those tears were for the victims and their families', but most were for Kip. Maybe it was because he reminded me so much of who I used to be.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I have been hearing more and more about the effects of anti-depressants upon people, causing severe mental and emotional reactions, and upping the statistics of suicide by some 60-fold! It may be that the one common denominator of all of the school shootings, as well as other sensational, unbelievable murders (such as the mother who killed her five children) is a history of anti-depressants.

linda branson
bozeman, mt

Dear FRONTLINE,

A critical lesson to be learned from this tragedy is that our society needs to commit to improving the early detection, prevention, and treatment of major mental disorders. Recognizing that Kip Kinkel was mentally ill should not be interpreted as being unsupportive to victims and their families, or minimizing the crime. However, denying the role of major mental illness in this tragedy only obstructs progess towards preventing such events in the future, and contributes to a lack of understanding about what took place.

S Dulawa

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