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Not all people with depression end up being mass murderers

Andreas Lubitz crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps on Tuesday 24th April, killing himself along with 149 passengers and crew on board. Recovered data has unearthed shocking recordings of how the pilot exited the cockpit, and returned to find the door locked and his co-pilot driving the plane straight into the mountains. While the prosecution runs its course, the media has already unearthed Mr Lubitz’s mental health history, describing him as a longtime sufferer of depression. Naturally, his depression is already being used as an excuse to support his actions.

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings jetliner that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday. (Photo credit: NYTimes/Reuters)

Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of the Germanwings jetliner that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday. (Photo credit: NYTimes/Reuters)

I find the media coverage of the Andreas Lubitz’s mental health history as being relevant but not central to the current investigation of this tragedy. Granted, it makes for an interesting headline, but all it does is add more fire and speculation to this story, without bringing any form of resolve.

What it is doing at the moment is further stigmatizing mental health sufferers. It is easy to use depression as an excuse to explain the motive behind the pilot’s supposed choice to take down the Germanwings plane. It could be the case of Mr Lubitz being a victim of his (so far) unknown medical condition, or maybe he did want to crash the plane into the Alps, or it could be any other of the multitude of scenarios being discussed across the internet.

It is true that it is possible that Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately. Should this be the case, depression will be blamed as we cannot bring ourselves to accept the fact that sometimes people do heinous and inexplicable things for no apparent reason. The only way how we can come to terms with such a tragedy is by trying to justify it. In this case the media mentioned ‘mental health’, so we are naturally inclined to say ‘he was depressed and suicidal so he crashed the plane’. Our brains can easily accept such a scenario rather than accepting that a person can carry out such horrible  unpremeditated actions.

Depression affects an estimated 350 Million people worldwide, with an estimated 30,000 people being afflicted in Malta.  Not all of these people will be inclined to commit some form of crime as a result of their condition. In fact, most of these individuals manage to live normal lives with their illness and in some cases also have certain important roles in society, such as Nationalist MP Mario Galea. If we start automatically assuming that all those diagnosed with depression cannot hold a position of responsibility, it won’t’ spell good things for our workforce!

It is so sad that we still live in a society where we feel the need to disparage and label groups of people based on the actions of a select few.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, and not all people with depression are mass murderers, and not all priests are paedophiles, and not all Romanian nationals are crooks, and not all Russian women are prostitutes, and not all homeless people are drug addicts, and not all Indian men are rapists, and on and on.

I’m sure you have made some of the above assumptions, that is how the media wants you to think.

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This blog entry is purely speculative – the results of the French prosecution are still underway.

Join the discussion

  1. lilypup

    Very sad for all concerned. Yes, I hope they give me (the mentally ill) the same courtesy they give others in not painting all of us with the same brush.

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