A Reactionary Ill-Informed Media

March 30, 2015

In light of the recent tragedy that occurred in Europe regarding the pilot who crashed a plane full of innocent people, I wanted to give a response. The media has been painting a picture of the pilot as someone who was suffering from depression, and as a result, chose to commit mass homicide. I feel like this is a really dangerous way to explain the situation. We don’t know much about the pilot. We do know that his doctor had written him a note excusing him from work (which he chose to ignore). We do know that at some point he was treated for depression many years ago. What we do not know is why he chose to commit mass homicide.

Having depression in our society is often stigmatized. It can be really hard for many people to even admit to themselves that they have suffered from periods of low mood, low energy, poor concentration, trouble sleeping, weight changes and possibly suicidal thoughts. What we certainly do not need is the media linking depression with homicide. While there are some cases where this is true, it is extremely rare and it is usually occurs in the context of a psychotic depression.

I am hoping that the family members and friends of those suffering from depression are supportive and lend a hand to those who need help. There is no need to fear those who are depressed, and much can be gained in our society from being inclusive to those in need. After all, we all need help at different points in our lives.

About the Author
Dr. Fein is a psychiatrist in Los Angeles specializing in general adult and women's mental health.