The German Wings plane crash is a complete tragedy. I don’t enjoy flying and can’t imagine what the families are going through. It’s awful. What’s even worse is the emerging picture about the co-pilot’s mental health history. It sounds like he was very unwell.
So why didn’t he say anything? Well, the stigma and hidden discrimination about disclosure to an employer means many people won’t share their mental health problems.
The knee-jerk reactions by the national press has not helped the situation and simply fuels the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
Why didn’t he think about the families of the victims? Here’s one reason:
Depression is an illness. Severe, clinical depression is all consuming, heartless and selfish. It makes the victim numb to all feeling, including the people around them. It doesn’t want to be helped because it makes the victim feel like they cannot be saved. All that person can think about is the 30 cm around them – there is no rational big picture.
Here is a good article written by the BBC yesterday, amidst an array of ignorant and stigmatising newspaper articles. Please do have a read if you are interested.
Let me end by saying I’m not taking away from this story the fact that it’s a tragedy. I’m devastated for the families and I would be angry if I were them. I also like wish had sought help, but it’s not easy in our society.
But having been had depressive episodes, I have suffered some of the above feelings. Life becomes hell on earth. It’s why people jump in front of trains, or take their own life in the family home. When I’m well, I can’t imagine how anyone could think like that. But it’s what depression does to you – it destroys from within, taking ability to reason as it’s first target.
That’s just my two-pence worth as I feel it’s an important thing to say before making judgments about this clearly unwell man. I just wish the media would act with more tact before calling this man a ‘murderer’ or ‘madman’.
Oh – and from Saturday’s newspaper previews, it looks like The Times have based their front page news story on vague, speculative comments from the ex-girlfriend. On a more positive note, The Guardian seems to be a bit more tactful.
We will see how then next few days unravel…