In light of the Germanwings tragedy, depression has become a central topic of discussion for all those who wish to seem in the loop. It’s the same with every horror that befalls our planet: we find a single reason to pin it on, and then discuss the ins and outs of said reason in an objective manner until we feel comfortable enough to sleep easy at night thinking that we have done all we could to solve the issue.
Of course the issue is never solved. If we solved every problem completely, there would be no problems left to talk about. Scholars and journalists would grow bored.
The problem with this method is that it opens the floodgates wide for brash assumptions about a massive topic to be made and accepted as fact. Take this month’s crash. As soon as it was discovered that this man had crashed the plane intentionally, we knew he was depressed and began to view it as a suicide attempt.
Let me make this abundantly clear: killing over a hundred innocents is not suicide. It is mass murder.
It’s poisonous to call it suicide for two reasons. The first is it paints depression in a bad light. It makes it look as if those who suffer this particular string of mental illness are all capable of killing. Media always finds symptoms of depression in mass murderers, and the link is therefore made that depression is synonymous with ability to kill. It isn’t. The complete lack of morals in a murderer, that is linked to certain severe and uncommon mental illnesses. It just so happens that a lot of these less common mental illnesses have a more common brother which becomes a symptom of the wider problem. A brother called depression.
Being depressed hasn’t made me lose moral values. It hasn’t made me want to walk into a primary school guns blazing. It hasn’t made me want to crash a plane into a mountainside. The only person depression has made me want to help is myself.
The second issue with calling it suicide and not murder is that it would not be called suicide if the pilot hadn’t been a white European.
This entire case struck me as odd from the first article I read about it, only hours after it had happened. A plane goes down in the Alps, killing all on board. It had been flying at the correct altitude in good weather for some time, and was in a grace period where accidents are the least likely to happen. Then it seems to nosedive out of nowhere, without sending out a distress signal, and crashes into the mountainside moments later.
And the first I hear about it is when officials are saying that they have all but ruled out the possibility of it being terrorism. In fact they didn’t believe it was even intentional at first, till they heard the audio.
Now it’s natural in humans to assume the best in people at first. We don’t like to think that somebody could’ve been able to knowingly kill a large number of people. As a general rule we like to believe that others hold the same moral values as us, because without that belief the world seems just a little bit more terrifying. But it’s not natural for the media to think this. The media loves to overblow small issues. They like to assume the worst in everything. They’ll nitpick until they find the most extreme angle, and then they’ll report from there. Because their job is to catch our attention, and the mundane rarely does this.
So imagine if Andreas Lubitz had in fact been Muhammed Bin Abdul, or some other name to the same effect. Imagine if this man had been Middle Eastern. Imagine if a plane with a brown Muslim co-pilot had mysteriously gone down for no reason in the Alps, suddenly, in good weather, in a grace period, killing all on board.
Horror. Disgust. Terrorism.
BBC would’ve said that some officials have “speculated that it could be an act of terror” from the go. The first few reports on the crash would’ve highlighted the co-pilot as a potential suspect, not as a victim. As soon as they’d have found out that he was the only one in the cockpit, cops would’ve been searching his home for links to terrorist organisations. It probably would’ve been revealed that his great uncle on his mother’s side twice removed was once friends with a man who’s brother had been put in Guantanamo Bay for terrorism pretty quickly. And then when that audio showed that he’d been calm until the very end, boy oh boy would things have escalated. Heads of state would be calling for major terrorist organisations to admit their ties. The more extreme would be calling for the war on terror to continue. People in the streets would start harassing any slightly brown skinned man or woman they saw. There’d probably be some revenge attacks.
But as it is, we’ll call it suicide. He was a victim, innocent like his victims were. He wasn’t. Because a depressed man would’ve known not to go to work that day. A depressed man would’ve hung himself, or slit his wrists, or killed himself in a way that would’ve limited the pain he inflicts on the world because a depressed man would’ve seen himself as a worthless blip on the planet’s surface that was not good to anyone, and would’ve thought that the only way to make this miserable existence we all trudge through any better would be if he removed himself.
If he’d been depressed and only depressed, his morals would’ve been intact. His friends would’ve cried for the life of a good man lost too soon as his coffin was lowered into the ground. But as it is, thousands more families and friends have to mourn.
He was not a victim of depression, he was a murderer, who granted needed help, stole the lives and dreams away from hundreds. He is not innocent.