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    The Last Time a Student Said a Word

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    Speaker: Sue Klebold

    Title of Speech: My son was a Columbine shooter. This is my story.

    When and where delivered:

    When: November – N/A – 2016

    Where: TEDMED 2016

    Purpose of the occasion:

    The speech was done to advocate for parents and professionals to continue to examine a link between suicidal and homicidal thinking.

    Are there additional things we should know about the background or the occasion?

    N/A, as far as I’m aware no.

    Complete the following with full sentences and examples.

    1. Explain the speaker’s introduction and discuss its effectiveness.

    The introduction seemed effective to me. She starts by opening with what the last time she heard her son’s voice was like before he and a friend went and killed 12 students at Columbine High School. It really sets the tone for the entire speech as a serious matter that will also be on the sorrowful side. After she talks about the day it happened, using Logos as she stated factual information from that said day, and the feelings that were felt that day and how it effected those families and students as well as herself.

    2. What was the thesis of the speech?

    The thesis is something along the lines of sharing what she has learned when being a “mother to someone who kills and hurts”. Trying to figure out where she failed as a parent. Explaining she did extensive research on issues like her son’s murder-suicide. Unable to give solutions, as well as there being no simple answers.

    3. Outline the main points of the speech.

    A. There are three challenges to be met when talking to people who are unaware of who she is.

    1. Unknown if there are people who people who’ve gone through trauma due to her sons’ actions.
    2. She’s asking for the people to try to understand and possibly give some compassion as she speaks about Dylan’s death as a suicide.
    3. As speaking on her sons’ death in a way to bring light and attention to mental health and how it effects people, she’s also talking about violence and what can happen when the two mix.

    Transition: Doing research and volunteering at fund-raising type of events, when she can, allowed her to get an eye-opening and understanding. As well as getting to speak to those who have survived suicidal crisis and attempts.

    B. A strong and helpful conversations that was effective was one she had with someone and a coworker overheard and proceeded to explain her experiences.

    1. Sue thought that Dylan was unable to love her if he was able to do something as horrific as he did
    2. The coworker was hospitalized after being severely depressed, she believed her three children were better off without her being alive. Mother’s love was the strongest bond she told Sue.
    3. Analysis of persuasive techniques

    ETHOS: Speaker credibility and manner of the speaker.

    Speaking about how she felt about her son and the horrible legacy he left allowed the audience to see that she is capable to expressing her sorrow and the regret of what her son did to the other students and, ultimately, the families. She spoke professionally on the serious topic while explaining her perspective on the matter and what she did to figure out Dylan’s mind and what drove him to do what he did.

    LOGOS: Logic, fact, or the power of reason.

    There is a section where she explains how when someone is in an extremely suicidal state their thinking is impaired and they’ve lost the ability for self-control in a sense. They are able to plan and act with some logic however, their sense of truth is twisted and seen differently from the “filter of pain” that is their current reality. I feel this would satisfy Logos as it’s a powerful explanation of a form of reason and logic as it is what happens when someone has a mental illness that is at a more intense level than others.

    PATHOS: Audience emotions and feelings.

    The use of the questions she’s been asked, “How could you not know?” and, “What kind of mother were you?” really emits disgust when asked and the feelings of hurt and embarrassment she felt when hearing them. As stated in the Logos section, there is the part where she briefly describes how the mind is for those in an extremely suicidal state. This part was a good form of pathos it’s a powerful explanation of how someone with an extreme medical mental illness can be affected and can cause the audience to feel sadness or hurt as if they are those people.

    Speaking on how her son’s death wasn’t only a suicide but a mass murder conveys an extreme emotion. After that she explains how she believed to be what was happening with Dylan, he was probably going through depression, and seemed like a perfectionist personality. I feel as though this section brings and emits a ton of emotions why explaining the feelings and events her son, Dylan, experienced to have the traumatic events happen that did happen.

    Expressing how the death of her son has affected her as well as the mental health issues she went through shows emotions (pathos) and credibility as she is open to talking about the affects of the traumatic events and how she dealt with it. She got breast cancer two years after, then two years after that she started to experience mental health problems and panic attacks. The feeling of fear and grief stayed with her as she was concerned she’d run into a family whose child was killed in the Columbine shooting. Paranoia sets in as she becomes afraid to even turn on the tv and the news comes up as they call her a terrible parent or person. This just shows how it can not only affect the families who lost their child but also the parents of the shooters as well. There was a line she said that her mind would have these moments where it would suddenly go into a spinning cycle of terror and that she felt that her mind was trying to kill her. And that really feel a strong wave of sadness and sorrow for her.

    5. What is the main point made in the conclusion?

    She talks about how she will live with the tragedy for the rest of her life. How some people think she doesn’t have the right to feel any pain. She closes by saying that,” …even the most vigilant and responsible of us may not be helped…we must never stop trying to know the unknowable”. Basically, saying that even the seemingly healthiest and well cautious person might not be able to be help when those times or events happen, however, we should never stop trying to find a way to figure out the unknown or the side/parts of things that never have been explored.

    6. In your opinion, is this a “Great Speech”? Please explain your answer with specific reasons.

    I would say yes. She gave multiple points of Pathos, Logos, and Ethos. When giving the speech, she conveyed emotions not only with her words and the way she gave the speech but also in her facial expressions and when she looked around the room to make eye contact with the audience members. There weren’t any weird pauses or unneeded or distracting hand gestures, at least not to me. She efficiently spoke on a topic that most would be unable to do, while also giving how the traumatic event affected her life and mental state.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    The Last Time a Student Said a Word. (2022, Dec 01). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-last-time-a-student-said-a-word/

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