A lot of people have trouble flying because of the minimal chance that there could be a crash or some other such disaster, and I bet the fact that there’s a distinct possibility your pilot might be suicidal will probably make crap your pants a bit more when you next get into a plane.
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That’s what a recent study conducted by Harvard University in the US found, after the depressed pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew his plane into a mountain last year, killing 149 people. Anonymously surveying pilots themselves, finding that 4.1% of them had had thoughts of being better off dead or self-harm within the past two weeks. If those numbers are factored in across the board, then that means that roughly 5700 out of the 140,000 pilots in the world are depressed. That’s not so good.
Here’s what the paper in the Environmental Health Journal had to say:
Hundreds of pilots currently flying are managing depression, and even suicidal thoughts, without the possibility of treatment due to the fear of negative career impacts.
The problems made it very or extremely difficult for them to work, take care of home matters, or engage in healthy relationships with people.
Female pilots reported more days with poor mental health and having more diagnosed depression than male pilots, which mirrors reporting among the general population.
The higher prevalence of depression among victims of frequent sexual or verbal harassment in our study provides further evidence of its existence among airline pilots, deep negative effects on its victims, and the urgent need to eliminate this form of harassment and help this subpopulation of workers.
Although we’re talking low numbers here in the grand scheme of things and these numbers are probably comparable in other professions, there are still a lot of people affected by these issues and it’s still the negativity and stigma around mental health that prevent people from discussing them. Sure, not everyone is going to end up flying a plane into a mountain, but it’s important that people talk to someone and get the help they need in order to not feel completely shitty in their lives. Let’s hope putting this out there helps in some small way.
For more pilots, check out this photo of one wanking at 38,000 feet that got leaked. That probably would lead to you being pretty depressed about your life for a bit.