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Dad Writes Surprising Letter to Teen Who Planned to Kill His Son

The Short of It

After he read a student was facing charges for plotting to use explosives at his 15-year-old son's high school, dad Charles Martin wrote a letter. It wasn't one of hate or fear, but rather of empathy and gratitude.

The Lowdown

Several teens came forward to administrators at Edmond High School in Edmond, Okla., saying a fellow student seemed suicidal after he sent some disturbing text messages. The teen was sent to a treatment facility, and later, a therapist there alerted police that the teen had been planning to kill several students at the school. Police found explosives and detailed plans in the teen's home.

Upon reading the news, Charles realized quickly that his son could have been killed if the plan had been carried out. He sat down and wrote an "open letter" to the would-be killer that has now gone viral.

"It was the winter that made it so hard, wasn't it? That's when you sent the texts to your friends that led them to notify the authorities. It was those damn snow days. The winter always brings me down too, so it's not just you. We all get tremendously sad sometimes," Charles wrote. "I want to believe that you texted your friends because you wanted to be caught. You wanted to be stopped. Your friends are heroes. Maybe you felt yourself getting out of control and tipped your hand in hopes someone would stop you, which also makes you a bit of a hero. Maybe."

He even relates a little bit to the teen: "High school is a tough place. It often made me angry and desperate too."

I recommend reading the entire letter, which appears on the website of Literati Press, where Charles is creative director.

The Upshot

School shootings and other mass killings used to be a foreign concept, but in recent years, we've heard of so many, they've become many parents' biggest fear. And while people still debate the issues of gun control and security, this dad reminds us of what might be the most important issue of all: that the people who are tempted to kill need help and empathy. And it's important to recognize others' cries for help early and to act on them.

"But finally and most importantly, thank you," Charles ends his letter. "You reached out to your friends and they made the brave decision to ask for help. A tragedy was averted and, I hope, your life will now start the long journey of getting back to better."

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