Watching CNN this morning (honestly I don’t know why I start my day watching it, it usually just makes me angry and/or anxious) and the Germanwings plane crash that happened recently. Specifically they were talking about how to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, or how to prevent a pilot from intentionally crashing a plane. And you know, it is important to talk about that. But the reality is, in my opinion, that the strategies they were suggesting would only make things worse. Things like regular psychiatric testing and “monitoring” of pilots. Talk about crazy-making! I was feeling anxious just hearing these “options” be discussed – and I’m not a pilot nor do I work in the airline industry in any capacity.
How is telling an entire group of people that they will be under surveillance supposed to help anyone’s mental health? And as some people’s mental health deteriorates, which it undoubtedly will for some pilots, are they going to be more or less likely to come forward now that they know they may lose their jobs? Whether or not there would be rules to prevent a pilot from losing their job, I doubt people would be reassured and likely things would often happen that are not supposed to. Not to mention there are a lot of people in this country and world live with a mental health condition or experience one at some point in their lives. And the vast majority of those people are not in the least a risk to anyone else. There is pretty compelling information out there to think that often when someone takes out a mass group of people, it is less about mental health and more about entitlement (i.e., it may be the interplay of mental health and entitlement and the entitlement factor is the one that is lethal). And while there are instances of command hallucinations, even in those instances the people reporting these hallucinations often also have a history of violence. And I’d guess that they are violent because of entitled beliefs, not because of a mental health issue – though certainly a mental health issue may make someone already prone to violence that much more dangerous. I think it’s a tricky, nebulous issue but one that is important to understand.
Either way, this tragic issue of, an albeit pretty minuscule percentage, of people who decide to kill a group of people is not an issue that will be solved by impulsive implementation of rules and regulation. I’m not saying that there’s no room for that to be done in some capacity, though I think the “solutions” currently being discussed are pretty appalling. Furthermore, that people kill others is not a new issue, it’s just that as time goes on, humans have more access to means of taking at many people in severely dramatic ways, like airplanes, guns and bombs. But trauma as well as messages of supremacy have been around for a long time. And we are going to need to commit to some long-term work on improving our collective well-being to truly be able to prevent such horrific acts. We need to prioritize our emotional well-brings and understand how immensely important an issue mental health is and treat it as such. We need to also recognize that mental health impacts all of us in some capacity and so this is not an “us vs them” issue but rather it is our issue. And we need to work tirelessly to eradicate entitled and supremacist beliefs. Because the bottom line is, whether or not that’s what happened in this case, when people see their needs as more important than others’ needs (and lives) then some pretty awful things can happen, in general and perhaps especially if their mental health goes south.
Some people will dismiss me as Pollyanna or too idealistic. Fine. I get it, we don’t currently prioritize mental health and not just that but we simultaneously dismiss it as an issue while shaming those who are most impacted by it. But. As I watched the news this morning and listened to this ludicrous suggestions, I knew these options would overall not improve the situation and likely it could become worse because of them. We can choose to be in denial about it and go on experiencing the same traumas. Or we can commit to changing ourselves and this world. It is no small task but I just don’t know how things will get better if we don’t.