First please let me give my most heartfelt condolence to all involved. Whether it be the passengers lost, the airline staff, ground crew… ANYONE affected. Including you if it has touched your heart as it has mine. ❤
I’d also like to offer condolences to the family and friends of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. They are suffering like everyone else but they have the added pain of knowing the person they loved caused this tragedy. That has to be a very heavy load to bare.
As for this blog. I am not writing it for sensationalism. I am not writing it for any other reason than the incident itself touched me but then it began worrying me as well. News of Andreas Lubitz being depressed and hiding it from his employers has me just feeling that I need to try to give some balance to all the hateful comments I am reading elsewhere. Maybe a few facts should be sprinkled in to all the news stories about depression. Perhaps they could explain WHY depressed people do not tell others of their condition. A bit of compassion can go such a long way.
I’ve done some research (using the “Statistics Canada” site) on suicides and homicides within the depressed population. It is actually almost impossible to find statistics for depression only so they have combined the rates for people with any sorts of mental illnesses including schizophrenia, psychotic episodes, drug induced rage and so forth.
In Canada there are 2 homicides for every 100,000 people each year. Most of the homicides are caused by 2 groups. Gangs and people who are in “Intimate relationships” with the victim. I do not believe they solely mean sexual intimacy but rather close family, friends, partners, and so forth.
Out of those homicides, only 13% are caused by persons with a mental illness.
Sorry for all the numbers but these statistics show very clearly that people with mental illnesses actually cause far fewer homicides than the general population. If 13% are caused by people with mental illnesses? That means 87% are caused by supposedly mentally healthy individuals.
I did a little more digging and found that out of all deaths caused by people who are depressed, 99.2% cause death to themselves. No one else. It is exceptionally rare to find cases where depression has taken lives outside of the depressed person themselves.
So lets just say that stories like Andreas Lubitz and the Germanwings plane will thankfully very likely continue to be very rare. All this outcry that is targeting mentally ill persons is very unfounded. You are SAFER with a depressed person if only 13% of us will hurt you compared to 87% of the general population.
So what would have happened if Andreas Lubitz had told his employers about his struggles? He’d very likely be taken off of duty to fly. In this particular case? That would have been a fantastic thing.
But… how many pilots and co-pilots out there deal with depression? They are just people like you and I. You will find depression within police forces, restaurant staff, nurses, doctors and therapists as well.
27% of occupational related suicides are taxi drivers, bus drivers and truck drivers.
26% are correctional officers, police officers and security personal.
The remaining percentages are made up largely of convenience store clerks, gas station attendants, retail workers, and other “customer service” professions.
Homicide is such a small percentage that they do not even show percentages for it.
That said, what do you think if everyone who suffers from depression went to their employers and told them about their mental health issues? Would they all be given a gentle reception? A compassionate ear? Would they still be looked at in the same way? If they had always been reliable and missed very few days but then missed a day or two after their open discussion, would they still be considered reliable or would they be frowned upon? I can tell you from personal experience that I lost jobs when my mental health history was revealed. That was never the “reason” on paper of course. Suddenly I was considered to be unreliable or untrustworthy. From others who I’ve spoken to over the years, there is a huge fear about telling employers about our mental health statuses because we most likely WILL deal with new-found prejudices and misunderstandings.
Does this promote openness? Of course not!
How many depressed persons can afford to lose their jobs in trade for that openness?
Can all of those bus/truck/cab drivers afford to take months or years off work until they feel “healed”?
How many policemen, security guards, cashiers, nurses, gas station attendants and all other professions have enough set away is savings to ride out all of depressions terrible grasp at home? Would being at home with no money promote healing or help the family dynamics?
I just think it is very unfair to judge those who do not tell their employers of their mental health status. It can and often will be used against you.
To wrap this all up… Andreas Lubitz and the Germanwings incident was a VERY rare occurrence. People with depression and other mental health issues are far more likely to take their own lives long before yours. I do not feel that we need to tighten up screenings for pilots or anyone else. If 87% of homicides are caused by people without mental health issues; shouldn’t we be more concerned with them? Just saying.
I just think a bit of “reality” and statistical knowledge needs to be brought in to this topic to help balance the people calling for unreasonable demands to be placed on the mentally ill.
And when you go out to a store, a hospital, a police station, decide to take a cab, a bus or ride in a plane, if you need to call a firefighter or an ambulance attendant… you very well might be dealing with someone who is clinically depressed. Consider that a good thing since we are actually the far safer segment of the population. You are safe in our hands. ❤