As risks have evolved from being phenomenological occurrences in the natural world, the twenty-first century is in many ways the era of man-made risk and man-stoked fires.
In spite of the many attacks on airports and aircraft that have occurred, the airline industry remains stuck in a largely reactive modus operandi. Now that the Brussels attack has occurred, that airport will, at least for a short time, become a fortress. But what about six months from now?
But the physician didn't inform aviation authorities or the airline about Andreas Lubitz's illness, a report has found.
In previous crashes, a second pilot has not been able to take control back from a suicidal pilot.
The population of qualified pilots having experienced depression is thought to be at least 10 percent, and that number does not include all of those flying safely with other labels that are connected in the public's mind with risk of a crash.
Germanwings Flight 9525: A Psychotherapist Questions Germany's Medical Privacy Laws and International Airline Regulations
I hope this tragedy fuels more public awareness that we all need to know the signs and symptoms of someone who is having a psychiatric emergency.
These findings suggest that mental illness is neither a sufficient nor necessary cause of violence. Rather, like the rest of the population, a nexus of variables must be considered when attempting to predict something as complex as human behavior.
The Germanwings tragedy can further stigmatize those with mental illness and make people with suicidal thoughts frightened that they'll be linked to a horrific crime. Yet this is also an opportunity to educate the world about the warning signs of suicide.
Countless media outlets have speculated strongly that mental illness -- particularly depression -- may have been the cause of the Germanwings tragedy. Here's why this troubling: It highlights the media's -- and by extension our society's -- tendency to view mental health difficulties as permanent.
It's dangerous to let our understandable outrage at the senseless loss of life cloud the harsh reality that it's time for us to accept that this outwardly healthy "boy next door" co-pilot from a quaint village in Germany could be our son, our next door neighbor, our father -- he could even be us.
When will professions and trade associations step forward and say they want to find solutions (with zero deaths as their goal) when patient safety is at risk as a result of medical conditions, including physical illnesses and mental and substance use disorders that have yet to be effectively treated or are in remission?
Lufthansa may yet, as it has signaled, release all the relevant documents, admit it's own responsibility, and pay generous compensation to the families of the victims. But if history is any guide this will not happen without a fight for full disclosure of the facts surrounding this horrific event.
In the case of Flight 9252's co-pilot, the fact is that we don't know his full history yet. We may never know every relevant fact. His precise history of depression, whatever it may have been, may ultimately be seen as unimportant compared to other issues in his life.