End the stigma of mental illness

Editor’s Note: Jay Ruderman is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for inclusion of people with disabilities in the broader society. Jo Ann Simons is the president and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Massachusetts, which provides people with disabilities opportunities and support in communities. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

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Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who crashed the Germanwings flight, battled with depression

Jay Ruderman and Jo Ann Simons: Society must talk about mental illness to help people cope with it better

CNN  — 

We might never truly comprehend what drove co-pilot Andreas Lubitz to crash Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps on March 24, killing everyone on board. The latest report shows that he sped up the descent of the plane to its doom. It’s terrifying.

As the investigation unfolds, we will learn more about to what extent Lubitz kept his mental illness secret, or how much help he sought. How much did his battle with depression affect his fitness to fly? Should he have walked away from his job? Should his doctors have sounded alarm bells?

His case raises larger and important issues about people who are burdened with mental illness and the pressure of its stigma.

Jay Ruderman
Jo Ann Simons

Too often and for too long, people with mental illness have been regarded by others around them as disasters waiting to happen. When we don’t distinguish between people with a mental illness who are dangerous to society a