Male suicide prevention charity CALM has urged perspective over Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who deliberately crashed his plane into the Alps, killing all on board.
Reports suggest that Lubitz was depressed and hid the fact in case he was deemed unfit to fly, an aspect that is likely to drastically reduce public sympathy for mental illness. CALM – the acronym stands for Campaign Against Living Miserably – points out that, whilst understandable, this is deeply unfair to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who suffer depression and, with or without help, handle it. It is also deeply unfair to those relative few who can’t cope and tragically take their own lives, though without ending 150 others. Sadly the reality now is that those with jobs where the lives of others are in their hands, and the list is a long one, are far less likely to be trusted to do those stressful and responsible jobs if they are known to be suffering mental health problems.
CALM report that in 2013 there were 6,233 probable suicides in the UK and that 4,858 (78%) were male, making suicide the biggest single killer of men aged 20-45. In contrast the number of female suicides is declining and has halved since the 1980s. Depression, often seen as a precursor to suicide is far more common than generally thought with 50% of men and 59% of women having been depressed at some time, with men far less likely to talk about their depression, or seek help for it, hence the higher suicide rate.