As the token mental, can I put it out there that I’ve never flown a plane into a mountain. One person has, on purpose, once.
Depression doesn’t make you kill, either yourself or others. Mental illness doesn’t make you hurt friends or strangers. Crazies like me can hold down jobs. Be normal. Do stuff. Have families. Be ordinary. Boring, even.
The reality of depression is not mass murder. Or suicide. It’s a quiet, restarting dullness that wakes up with you and goes to bed with you. It just is. You just are. It’s part of you, inseparable. But it isn’t violence. Violence may come along with it, but it isn’t a part of it.
But… It might not always be there. It needs looking after but it isn’t necessarily forever.
What message do we get from a knee jerk reaction to these things? That people with mental health problems should be treated like ticking bombs? That they shouldn’t have responsible jobs? That they – we – might all flip at any time?
Even worse is what that kind of spreading attitude would do. Drive us all underground. Make us all hide. Make us avoid treatment, knowing we’d be stopped from having our dreams if we told the truth. Mental illness isn’t a linear progression from feeling funny one day to flying a plane into a mountain sometime later. That happened once. Once.
Every time after a disaster, a big loss of life – one that we can’t pigeonhole as evil (terrorism) or “it’s awful, but it’s war” (war) – there’s the same scramble to explain. The same questioning. The same need to wrap it up neatly.
Did this pilot even have mental health history? Did he seek treatment? Does it matter? Is some kind of mass killing so hugely out of the range of our experience that it can’t be neatly explained away?
Maybe it doesn’t matter at all. If it makes you feel better, you tell yourself that all people everywhere on the spectrum of mental illness are crazies and nutters and are going to kill you. And that that’s the only explanation. But there are sometimes no explanations – for this, for Moorgate for example, for any of these tragedies.
That’s not it at all. But what does it matter? How does it help? And it if doesn’t help, why do it at all?