A Few Thoughts on the Germanwings Crash

As most people probably know already, there was a fairly significant plane crash earlier this week on the Germanwings line. A co-pilot locked his pilot out of the cockpit and crashed the plane.

The man was diagnosed with depression and had struggled with feeling suicidal. Of course. Of course of course of course, this is considered the most relevant information by nearly everyone commenting on the event. People are wondering whether those who have been diagnosed should be allowed in positions like pilot, how we can fix the mental health system to prevent things like this from happening again, and whether the pilot’s doctors should have done more to keep him out of the cockpit.

I am tired. I am tired of the only stories about mental illness that come across my radar in the mainstream media are ones that link violence and mental illness. I’m tired of these being the faces of depression, instead of the thousands of average people just going about their lives. I’m tired of writing this blog post over and over again, to remind everyone that people with depression are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, to remind people that incidents like this are not the appropriate time to talk about mental healthcare, to tell you all that mental illness is not something to be afraid of, it’s just hard and it hurts us way more than it hurts you.

I wish I didn’t have to remind everyone again that if this is a suicide that doesn’t mean he was weak or selfish or bad, it means there was something horribly wrong and he was very sick. I wish I didn’t have to say that none of us will ever know what he was thinking or feeling, and we can’t make assumptions about any of it.

It feels so obvious now that we need to be doing more for people with depression all the time, not just when we’re afraid that they’re going to hurt us. And it seems so obvious that violence is not the exclusive purview of the mentally ill.

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