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Thursday, Feb. 29
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: Don’t blame depression for Flight 9525

French prosecutors claim 27-year-old German citizen and co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 Andreas Lubitz was conscious inside the cockpit just before crashing into the French Alps last week.

This means the crash was likely deliberate.

After no technical fault could be determined and terrorist motives were deemed unlikely, prosecutors began looking into Lubitz’s mental health records.

The New York Times wrote last Friday, “prosecutors said that among the items found at Mr. Lubitz’s home was a doctor’s note excusing him from work on the day of the crash and another note that had been torn up.

These documents “‘support the preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues.’”

If this is true, there may be an explanation — don’t confuse this with an excuse.

If you have depression, no amount of joy, money or support will make ?depression comfortable; the stigma and discrimination against depression is too pervasive worldwide to risk being forward about such a condition.

Could it be that Mr. Lubitz had torn up the note for fear of losing his job and ?being labeled? Or had he already decided to ram that plane into the French Alps?

More instrumental to this discussion: why hadn’t Germanwings and other European airlines instituted the ‘rule of two,’ which keeps two pilots in the cockpit at all times, before something like this transpired?

Carsten Spohris is the CEO of Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings. He said he was stunned to learn of the crash.

“Mr. Lubitz was 100 percent flightworthy, without any limitations,” Spohr said last week. Lubitz had passed his annual medical health test, which is clearly not a psychological evaluation.

Do not misconstrue, the deliberate crashing of Flight 9525 is inexcusable.

There is no excuse for a lapse in judgment that takes 150 lives.

But dismissing the incident as another crazy-person episode would be a mistake.

The real issue with this case, as with many other tragedies motivated by depression or anxiety, is that the truth is not likely to ?surface.

We may never know exactly why or exactly when Lubitz decided to crash the A320 Airbus.

But I’m willing to bet the reason we’ll never know the truth is the same reason Lubitz “hid his medical condition from employer,” as the headlines read.

Anxiety and depression don’t just affect those who make headlines; it affects our nurses and lawyers, our baristas and clergymen — everyone is susceptible to feelings of hopelessness.

Vilifying Lubitz’s condition vilifies the millions of others who share his ?diagnosis.

If people are afraid of being ostracized just for being honest about how they feel, what can we reasonably expect to continue happening?

Denying that people get sad and make mistakes, regardless of how tragic or costly those mistakes might be, forces the issue under the rug.

As if we can afford not to confront it.

The only healthy way to come to terms with these trying issues is by adopting an attitude of rehabilitation, not exclusionism.

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