The Current

Media speculating Andreas Lubitz's mental health is a disservice

Following the news, you'd be forgiven for thinking everyone's a psychiatrist, busy with a diagnosis of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who crashed GermanWings Flight 9525. In the media coverage, facts have been mixed with speculation and critics say the collateral damage is our understanding of mental health.
Authorities said that Andreas Lubitz deliberately sent the airliner into a descent and was breathing calmly before the crash. (Foto-Team-Mueller/Reuters)

It's been just over a week since Germanwings Flight 9525 crashed into the French Alps, killing all on board. An incomprehensible tragedy when it was first reported... there's now a story taking shape.

And for the news media reporting that story, one fact has stood out above all others, the mental health of the man at the plane's controls.

Today, as part of our occasional Eye on the Media series, we're asking about how the news media should report and relate this kind of story when mental health issues such as depression are intertwined with disaster.

Andre Picard is a health reporter at The Globe and Mail. He also contributed to the creation of a guide for journalists called Mindset: Reporting on Mental Health. He was in Montreal.

Kelly McBride is a media ethics expert at The Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Paul Garfinkel is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, and founding CEO of CAMH. He was in our Toronto studio.

This segment was produced by The Currnent's Pacinthe Mattar, Ines Colabrese and Marc Apollonio.


Don't Blame It on Depression - Slate

Germanwings crash: Co-pilot told flight school of serious depression, airline says - Associated Press

Media Guide: Reporting on Mental Health - Mindset, a project created by Canadian journalists for journalists