Airline crash puts mental heal issues back in spotlight

Friday, March 27, 2015

If you're planning any airline trips soon, we've got a little advice.

Don't spend all your spare time watching air crash investigation videos on YouTube. And, don't read the rest of this editorial.

Authorities were shocked to learn that a plane flown by Lufthansa's budget airline, Germanwings, had dove into the French Alps shortly after reaching cruising altitude.

Some thought it might have been terrorism, but details are emerging that are even more frightening -- the co-pilot seems to have locked the pilot out of the cabin and deliberately killed himself and the other 149 people aboard.

Todays news brings indications that the young pilot was hiding his heavy depression from his employers, and may have suffered a breakup with his girlfriend.

Airlines are scrambling to change rules to prevent pilots from being left alone in the cockpit, behind doors strengthened following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

They're also reassessing screening procedures, to see if there are ways to prevent something like this from happening again. It's a delicate balance; airline pilots worry that every physical might uncover something that might end their career; a factor that may have led to the Germanwings' co-pilot to conceal his problems.

One can only imagine the panic felt by the pilot responsible for the plane and passengers, or the horror of passengers as they watched the ground approaching while their captain tried to break down the cabin door, lasting the eight minutes it took for the plane to hit the mountains.

One man's mental health issues will snowball to afflict thousands or millions more, as surviving family members, friends and even viewers and readers try to cope with the loss of so many innocent people.

It reinforces the need for each of us to acknowledge that we as individuals or family members, friends and co-workers may need help from time to time. It's not a sign of weakness to reach out for help when we really need it.

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