Regarding the recent references made to the pilot who brought down an aircraft, killing all 150 on board in a suspected suicide action, he was more than depressed I would guess!
Depression is about feeling isolated, misunderstood, inadequate and unhappy. Not about feeling suicidal or murderous. There was much more to his mental health issues, including a break down which is more likely to lead to unstable reactions.
Two GPs diagnosed his depression yet didn’t advise the airline, not perhaps look more deeply into the reasons for his depression – too easily ‘fixed’ by medication (that he didn’t take …). They didn’t look deep enough, and I have witnessed this before, first and second hand. They take the quick and easy medical model diagnosis without talking to patients, offering them a caring ear in reality, or ensuring they have the necessary or any support to get then through problems, sadly.
The airline place responsibility on their staff for advising them on their fitness to fly (and in this case he wasn’t going to for fear of being grounded, and also his fear of oncoming blindness although this is yet to be established as fact I think). If it was my company I would want to know everyone was working to their best and not endangering nor damaging my company with their lack of effort or ability, wouldn’t you?
Laying responsibility on someone this vulnerable – depressed, suicidal, breaking down and revengeful perhaps – is certainly not a good idea. Some companies don’t take their ‘duty of care’ sufficiently well, nor watching for signs that things are not well or even dangerous like in this case.
Vulnerable people cannot be held responsible – that is why they are vulnerable! Unable to think straight, emotionally unstable or volatile, feeling threatened and stressed (their resources are current insufficient to meet the demands placed on them by life, people or themselves …)
A breakdown is different from depression because it means the mind is not functioning properly – meaningful links are not being made mentally, emotions are running so high constantly the mind and body are under stress that cannot be sustained for too long, and in the end stress leads to exhaustion and burn out – and a split of mental or cognition with reality or everyday functioning.
Depression is a low level of emotional feeling – a steady line rather than ups and downs, happiness and anxiety which happens in normal life. It can involve exhaustion from stress of trying to function yet feeling threatened by what is going on in their minds which means they want to sleep, lack energy and apathy, or cognitive concentration (such as to plan such an event and implement it), but not going to break down per se.
From hints about name-calling by colleagues, could this also involve some low self esteem, anger and resentment against colleagues and the airline – people in general even that was perhaps bullying in effect?
There are a lot of issues raised even from the hints and comments in news articles, but on close inspection there will be facts to be assessed and reported for a thorough risk assessment on many levels from airlines to national or international changes in procedures such as the lock-out, protocols of cockpit attendance and hopefully, health management and responsibilities from companies, managers and health authorities too.