I’m going to start this by saying that all extremism is bad, and possibly a sign of an unstable mental health.
But that’s not what I’m going to talk about. This post is about mental health…and more importantly, how the stigmatization of an unhealthy mental wellbeing is going to ruin us.
As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, a few days ago a plane crashed in the French Alps. The story goes that the co-pilot intentionally crashed the GermanWings plane, killing 150 people (including himself, obviously). When it crashed the plane was going at around 700km/hr. As to be expected, no one was saved, and the entire plane was in ruins.
All people cared about was whether or not it was a terrorist attack, and they were significantly relieved to find out that the co-pilot had made no mention of ‘Allah hu akbar’ (which is what Muslim extremists tend to say before launching an attack). Here I’d like to point out that no one assumed that he could be a Christian terrorist, or a Jewish one. But I digress again.
The next step, since he was white, was to start looking at his mental wellbeing. Words such as ‘suicidal’ and ‘depressive’ started being thrown about. And then, some very *smart* people said “He should have just killed himself if he was suicidal”. Now, I get that people are upset. And they have every right to be. 149 innocent people, including around 16 school children were killed in one of the most atrocious ways. The likelihood of their loved ones recovering from this is incredibly slight.
But by saying that you’re just looking at the short term. This reasoning goes like this: Person A dies so Situation B never happens.
But if it wasn’t Person A, there will be another person who will do this.
Telling someone to just kill themselves is never the answer. And frankly, if you think this way (even after reflection about what you said), then you’ve completely detached yourself from the human race and lack compassion. Yes, I will be blunt.
So what actually needs to be done? Stop stigmatizing mental health.
Everyone has a mental health. And everyone can go through a tough time and get sick. Just like you can get a cold.
“I don’t stigmatise!” I hear you say, or “I don’t feel stigmatized”. Well, 1. if a friend comes to you and tells you that they feel depressed, do you feel awkward and not know what to say? and try to cover up your feelings with humour without ever trying to take care of your friend? 2. Do you feel depressive, or are you self harming, but you hide it from the people you care about because you feel ashamed?
In an ideal world, people are comfortable and speak openly about their mental health. Visiting a psychologist or a counsellor wouldn’t be the walk of shame, something which needs to be hidden or whispered only to a very close friend. It should be something you can mention randomly, without anyone judging you. You wouldn’t judge your friend for catching the flu, so why judge your friend for having anxiety?
In today’s world, no one can speak of their mental health issues, unless it’s anonymously online. Because it’s just not safe out there. Try telling your employer that you can get crippling anxiety when under a lot of stress. No matter how many times you tell him that you always pull through, he just wouldn’t hire you.
So what happens? People start hiding their problems. And people can get very good at hiding them. They learn how to function on a day-to-day basis, and no one would ever suspect otherwise. Because no one ever looks deep enough to see the cracks in these people’s armour.
And then what?
Well some people will keep on functioning until their natural death.
Otherwise will end their misery early. Because seeking help was never an option.
Some actually find the strength to seek help.
Others end their life in a tragic way which ends up on the news. Case in point, the GermanWings plane crash.
I’m not saying that the co-pilot was mentally ill. But the signs do point towards that. Why else would you deliberately crash a plane and kill all those people? Even if there was an ulterior motive, that motive would have been backed by an unstable mind.
The solution is not pushing mentally ill people to suicide. Quite the opposite. Push these people towards help. Towards support. Towards love.