Andreas Lubitz, co-pilot of the Germanwings flight 4U9525, killed himself and 149 others because he was suffering from depression.
Or, so the media wants us to believe.
When tragedy strikes, we demand answers. We need someone or something to blame; we need an outlet for our grief. We need to know why this happened. We need a scapegoat.
And, in this case, depression was the perfect punching bag because we still don’t really understand it. We don't understand what it looks like, and if we did, we certainly wouldn’t believe it to be a plausible alibi for mass murder.
And, we certainly wouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon, calling for commercial pilots with depression to be banned from flying.
The truth is this: Even if Andreas Lubitz was suffering from depression (something that is yet to be confirmed), it does not explain why he chose to end his life and the lives of 149 others in such a heinous and tragic manner. Such behavior is not in line with that of an individual who suffers from depression.
Depression is not psychopathy. People afflicted with depression suffer feelings of hopelessness, despair and guilt. Sufferers struggle with poor concentration and are often unable to make everyday decisions.
The cold and calculated way in which Andreas Lubitz allegedly locked his pilot out of the cockpit, commandeered the aircraft and began the eight-minute descent into the French Alps is more in line with the actions of a sociopath than those of a depressed individual.
Depression does not make you homicidal. People suffering from the condition do not automatically become mass murderers.
People with depression don’t do this.
If you’ve ever suffered from depression whilst holding down a full-time job, you’ll know how exhausting it is; how everyday tasks can take two hours instead of 10 minutes. Most of us can’t even remember the password to our email accounts, let alone find the energy to commit mass murder.
People suffering from depression don’t usually commit suicide in such loud and dramatic manners. Instead, they prefer to slip away quietly, out of the spotlight.
Though I cannot deny that crashing a plane into the side of a mountain is not the act of an extremely troubled young man, I do not believe Andreas Lubitz did what he did because he had depression.
I believe that in our efforts to make sense of this awful tragedy, we’ve found the nearest-reaching thing to an explanation, and we’ve declared it fact.
Some media outlets have jumped on the scapegoat bouncy castle and called for all pilots suffering from a mental illness to be banned from flying. This scare-mongering is nothing but entrenching the mental health stigma that is already so prominent.
Depression alone cannot bear the burden for this tragedy. I believe in the absence of a technical fault; it’s easier and safer for us to believe that Andreas Lubitz had depression because the alternative is much too frightening for us to comprehend.
That is, human beings are complex creatures who are capable of extremely unpredictable behaviors. I think we’re frightened to admit this tragedy could not have been foreseen.
Even more frightening is the media’s demonization and general misconception of depression. Mental health sufferers are portrayed as dangerous, crazy and unpredictable lunatics. It is narrow-minded and damaging to assume all depression sufferers are dormant mass murderers.
On top of that, to suggest pilots who suffer from depression shouldn’t be allowed to fly is absolutely medieval.
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 350 million people suffering from depression globally. Some of those people are in high-powered, demanding professions, including doctors, lawyers, train drivers, kindergarten teachers, etc.
We cannot deem these people unfit because they suffer from medical conditions. If we played by those rules, half the world would be out of work.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t take depression seriously because, of course, we should. There should be measures in place to screen individuals to ensure they are physically fit to perform the jobs they are paid to do -- that goes without saying.
But, if someone is found to be suffering from depression, he or she should be helped and encouraged to get back to work as soon as possible, not locked away and banned from doing their jobs. These people should be supported.
Suddenly, instead of helping and supporting individuals, we’re telling them they will probably lose their jobs if they disclose their mental illnesses to their employers.
How can we expect people to seek treatment under these conditions? How can we ever expect to change the face of mental illness when we’re actively demonizing it? How can we expect people to recognize depression when we’ve depicted it as the behavior of a psychopath?
I understand that in troubled times, people seek answers; it’s in our nature. But, blindly punching away at depression and using it as a quick-fix answer is damaging and irresponsible. Depression didn’t do this.
I would like to say this loud and clear: I have depression, and I have never flown a plane into a mountain.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Elite Daily.