The Boston Globe published a piece today, the headline of which says it all: Mental health advocates worry about fallout from plane crash. The piece is about the fall-out of the Germanwings crash, and 27-year old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who apparently crashed the plane in a suicidal act of mass murder.
Lubitz had been treated for depression.
But people who are seriously depressed, even suicidally depressed almost never engage in an act like this. An act of mass murder. Whatever Lubitz was thinking, obviously his thinking had become completely distorted by the time he did what he did.
I remember when Michael Dukakis had to defend himself during his run for President because he sought mental health counseling after the death of his brother. There were questions at the time whether this made Dukakis unfit to be President of the United States.
An episode like this, the episode with Andreas Lubitz and his incomprehensible act of cowardice, sets back the perception of mental health again, a perception that had been making slow and halting progress towards respectability and acceptance.
As quoted in the Globe article, “surveys often reveal a public perception that mental illness walks hand-in-hand with violence and crime — a view that is particularly prominent following events such as the Germanwings crash, or mass shootings that capture widespread media attention. The real problem with mental health in the United States is the untreated illness and lack of access to quality care.”
And that’s the truth, which you know for sure if you’ve ever tried to get your U.S. health insurance carrier to reimburse you for any kind of consistent mental health treatment.