Peter Lanza Breaks His Silence
(March 13, 2014) The father of Adam Lanza, who killed 28 people, including himself, his mother, school workers and elementary school children in December 2012, broke his silence this past week. Peter Lanza spoke with Andrew Solomon of the New Yorker about his son, the tragedy he committed at Sandy Hook Elementary School and about the aftermath of that gruesome day (“The Reckoning,” March 17).
The interviews with Solomon, which were Peter Lanza’s first about his son, took on the many questions about whether the event could have been prevented or predicted, the need for mental health or gun reform and speculation about Adam’s motive. But, Solomon wrote, “Peter Lanza came to [those] conversations as much to ask questions as to answer them. It’s strange to live in a state of sustained incomprehension about what has become the most important fact about you.”
Perhaps most compelling was the perspective Solomon’s story provided towards the human impact not only on Adam Lanza’s victims, but on those who loved him. “I’m not dealing with it,” Lanza told Solomon. “You can’t mourn for the little boy he once was. You can’t fool yourself.” Lanza also said he was surprised by a victim’s relative saying that they had forgiven Adam, a position he still struggles with. “I didn’t even know how to respond,” he said. In spite of the sorrow he felt about the lives lost at the hands of his son, and about this new reality and visibility, Lanza decided to share his story to help the families of those who Adam killed, and maybe contribute towards preventing another such event.
Although it is unclear whether Adam suffered from psychosis – there is no evidence that he did, Peter said he had suspicions of schizophrenia at times – the Lanzas’ story is unfortunately all too familiar to some families with loved ones who have acted violently on psychotic thoughts with tragic consequences.
The notoriety that emerges from raising someone who has perpetrated such acts is obviously unwelcome, but also masks another tragedy: the failure to find answers about why and how so many lives could be ruined by what seem to be mysterious forces. And these failures occur at the hands of our larger communities, not just the families who struggle to find the right path.
When reflecting on Sandy Hook, we must challenge ourselves to ask: can we find compassion for those who struggled to find answers to the many other questions the Lanzas faced while raising Adam? And can we challenge ourselves to find some compassion for others like Adam Lanza?
“I want people to be afraid of the fact that this could happen to them,” Peter Lanza told Solomon. “It’s real,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be understood to be real.”
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