Media unfairly criticizes mentally ill in coverage of Lufthansa crash

Media unfairly criticizes mentally ill in coverage of Lufthansa crash

From any point of view, there’s no denying the tragic nature of Lufthansa flight 9525. The co-pilot, Andrea Lupitz, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and re-set the autopilot. He sent the plane into a rapid descent to a mere 100 feet above the ground, slamming it into the French Alps. There is also no denying that Lubitz was suicidal. Recent developments reveal that by Lufthansa standards, he likely should not have been in the cockpit in the first place.


While all of these can be considered fact, many are starting to take umbrage with the subjective, spin-based nature of media coverage of the crash, as well as Lubitz, himself.


mental illness, depression, statistics, mental health


While the actions of Lubitz may be despicable, many have called into question the media portrayal of people with suicidal tendencies. Over the last few decades, great strides have been made towards the understanding and acceptance of such ailments. Mental illness afflicts roughly one-fourth of Americans — from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).


Every time a controversy such as this rears its head, people immediately seem to point fingers toward the mental health community. The Christian Science Monitor explains that most suicidal people have absolutely no intention of killing people along with themselves, but this fact gets overlooked. Most media outlets covering the tragedy have almost universally portrayed Lubitz as a mass murder, when in reality he was a man who needed help. People suffering from mental disorders require assistance more often than not; to villify them is to wholly misunderstand what they go through on a daily basis.


Michelle Bachmann, Congresswoman, politics, government, American government, Congress

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann in 2011 (

Perhaps the most overt example of misunderstanding of the matter came from Michelle Bachmann. The Republican Congresswoman stated, “Barack Obama is for the 300 million souls of the United States what Andreas Lubitz was for the 150 souls on the German Wings flight — a deranged pilot flying his entire nation into the rocks.” While the media has already mishandled the representation of this incident, perhaps nothing signifies it better than those words spoken by an American congresswoman.


While what Lubitz did was unforgivable, we mustn’t utilize men like him in sweeping generalizations about the suicidal community. We need increased understanding of mental health in society, or we risk serious societal regression.


Are Bachmann’s words offensive? How do you feel about the Lufthansa crash? Comment below or tweet @connerws

Conner Schwerdtfeger

A recent graduate from Chapman University, Conner aspires to tell stories that not only engage, but inform and inspire readers around the world. Growing up in the highly active culture of San Diego, he has a passion for adventure and is always looking for new and interesting experiences. Fun is the name of the game, and he holds firm to the idea that a day without laughter is a day wasted. He has a passion for fitness, and when not at his desk can most likely be found hiking or swimming. He reports on a wide variety of topics for MUIPR, with an emphasis on entertainment and current events. Follow on Twitter @connerws.

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