Everyone whose life has been tainted, if not ruined, by mental illness in general and depression in particular may not want to see the front page of today’s copy of The Sun. Whilst most other newspapers deal with the tragic story of the Germanwings plane crash with varying degrees of sensitivity (and mild insensitivity, if the truth be known), The Sun nails it with the headline, “Madman in the cockpit.” Well, thanks for that, Rupert.
I am sure that my loyal reader has probably had enough of my constant whining and bleating about my own struggle with this invisible illness and the devastating, for me, effects it has on both my life and the lives of those around me. My own black dog does not require the use of straitjackets, at least not yet, and thanks to the support of an ever-loving family and friends, as well as some drugs which usually do work, I do not regard myself as a “madman”, although other opinions are available.
If it emerges that the Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was suffering from depression – and let’s be clear: we do not know this yet as a matter of fact – then The Sun, not for the first time, has performed yet another massive public disservice, lumping together everyone who has a mental illness under the convenient category ‘Madman’. And that’s a shame, more than a shame, because in recent times there has been a lot of positivity in trying to understand mental illness and depression. High profile celebrities and sports stars have courageously come forward and spoken about their debilitating conditions and in most cases they have been warmly received. No one was describing them as madmen, quite possibly because people realise that they are not mad at all, just ill. The Sun, with a typically ignorant headline, says to its readers that the co-pilot was a madman.
We do not know the facts about Lubitz and it was foolish of Britain’s best selling newspaper, god help us, to make such a grand assumption for a cheap headline. Not everyone is capable of telling the difference between being mentally ill and being mad. According to The Sun, there is none.
The one positive about The Sun is that there are no longer tits on Page Three. What a shame there are still so many in the editorial department who come up with crass headlines like that.