June 5, 2020

Teaching people the warning signs of mental illness

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This archived article was written by: Josie Sue Slade

From sudden behavioral changes to hostility and moodiness, these are a few things on a long list of warning signs someone should watch for. Mental illness (including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder) can come on quickly and destroy a person’s life if they or someone else isn’t looking out for them.
Catching a warning sign can make all the difference and prevent a disaster. The problem is that few people know what a warning sign is or what to do if they catch one. This lack of education is an injustice and has lead to situations that could have been prevented.
Last week, the co-pilot of a Germanwings plane crashed into the Frnech Alps in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to destroy the plane. All 150 passengers died on impact.
On March 27, German authorities reported that they found torn up sick-notes showing that the co-pilot was suffering from a mental illness which should have grounded him the day of the accident. Instead of reporting his illness, he kept it to himself and killed himself and many other people in the process. While this is the co-pilot’s fault, how did no one notice that he was suffering?
Everyday this pilot would go into work and interact with people, many of which he would be on a plane with for hours at a time. It’s doubtful that no one would have caught the warning signs of a mental illness if they had been informed. How many lives could have been saved if someone paid attention to this man?
A plane crash caused by a suicide has occurred several times in history. According to a 2014 study published in “Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine,” 24 of 7,444 fatal airplane in the United States were the result of aircraft-assisted suicide.
Why is it that after the first occurrence of a suicide of this nature, more education wasn’t put into place, even with employees who deal with pilots?
It’s time for us to step up and start educating people about mental illness. If more information was given to us from a young age, it would make a difference. As a teenager, I had problems that led to poor grades and trouble that could have ruined my chance to go to college and be successful. If my mother didn’t know how to recognize the signs of mental illness, I might have never gotten diagnosed, and who knows how many more problems I would have had as a teenager.
It’s because of my mother’s education and vigilance that I was able to get the treatment I needed. This is just one case that education prevailed. It’s now the time for us to start educating ourselves and advocating for the education of others. You can make a change if you want to.

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