Last week was marked by the plane accident involving a German airline in the Alps that killed 150 people. The evidence collected until now suggests that the cause was a murder-suicide of the co-pilot. This accident has shaken the whole world, in particular, Germany. While the details of the actual tragedy are still being unraveled (if ever they will be completely known) there are several lessons which can be learnt from this tragedy.
It is time to stop with the obsession with terrorism attacks after the 9/11. This has lead to absurd measures to protect the citizens that puts them, in the end, in danger. For example, after the 9/11 the airlines removed access to the cockpit from the outside, in a way to prevent possible terrorist attacks. The incident last week has shown that such drastic measures, instead of locking out any dangerous people from the cockpit, can keep them inside! What if the pilot or co-pilot while alone feels bad and faints? In such a case no one can help either. Absurd drastic measures have, in this case, lead to the death of 150 people. It is time to think in global scenarios, instead of focusing on terrorist attacks. It should always be possible to access the cockpit from outside, even if only by the pilot and co-pilot by punching in a pin number. This would definitely make me feel safer the next time I travel by plane!
This accident made think about a friend of mine. About 20 years ago, she committed suicide by jumping off a bridge as tall as the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. According to people who saw her doing it, she drove her car to bridge, opened the door and jumped! Still today, I can’t go over that bridge. It is hard to imagine how desperate you must feel to summon up enough courage to jump. Of course I knew she hadn’t been well. She had been at my place some time before. I remember that on that day we talked a lot about happiness and love (I had just got married). I can still remember her words on the subject – “Yes I do believe that you can find happiness and love and all or most people, in general. I just don’t believe that I will be able to find love or happiness!“. I thought it was just a bad phase, that she would get through it. But she didn’t. Some time after that she committed suicide. Did I ever think she could do such a thing? No, no way. However, her words I will never forget. One thing I understood – you commit suicide when don’t see any hope whatsoever in the future.
The distance from a suicide to a murder-suicide is, of course, big. In this case, again there is the belief that you will not find happiness or peace in the future, but hate plays a big role. Someone or a group of people is responsible for your pain – and they will have to pay for it. It is difficult to imagine the amount of pain and hate that can develop in a person and, at the same time, the courage to then put their plans into practice. Therefore, never underestimate a depressed person. Always take them seriously.
This accident was a severe stroke to German pride. Proud of being very reliable and almost error-free, this accident caused by a German citizen showed that very bad things can be caused by a native, apparently successful and happy citizen. Living already for some time in Germany, I must say I am not surprised that such thing has happened. The German Society is based on success, on achievements. Since Kindergarten, children are taught that they must work a lot in order to one day have a very successful job. There is no room for failure. An aggravation to all this situation is the basic belief in the German culture that you should never show your emotions or talk about possible personal problems. Therefore, since childhood Germans are taught not show many emotions. You can´t be angry, you can´t be too happy either and especially you should not make any noise during conversations or in any situation. Having so much stress and social pressure on one hand and, on the other having their emotions so repressed, can lead to lots of physiological disturbances. I started noticing that some time ago, in particular, on my way to and back from work. It is very common to see people, still young, very well dressed suddenly completely loosing their temper and starting screaming and jumping, just because, for example, they lost their train or bus. Another situation is when people are reading a newspaper or scrolling their smartphone how they start sending dirty hateful looks if someone close to them just talks a bit louder. Believe me, these reactions are the sudden transformation of Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde. One minute you have everything under control, the next minute you have lost it completely.
Life is so much more than a successful job and having lots of money. It seems that the reason for the murder-suicide were possible health problems, which could damage the co-pilot’s future prospects of becoming a pilot. How much social pressure must you feel in order to decide that your life is not worth anything, if you are not a successful pilot in a famous airline company, and that the people on board must pay for your pain? How much psychological pain must you feel in order to cause such a incredible accident to show the whole world how intense your pain was?
I have heard some victim’s relatives saying that the why of this accident does not matter to them. I disagree: now that so many lives have been lost, I think the only thing that matters is the why, i.e. all the circumstances that lead to it. Only knowing that, can our world learn lessons for the future that can prevent such unfortunate accidents from ever happening again…