Re: "For air travelers, another fear: A pilot is having a bad day" (Kathleen Parker column, 3-29).
The tragic plane crash in the Alps can be a teaching moment for broadening understanding about - and compassion for - those with mental illness.
Parker refers to the Germanwings co-pilot as "every bit the monster the terrorist is." I gasped. How could she call a person with a mental illness a monster and get away with it?
Parker refers to the pilot's "poor parents" and adds, "But not, please, poor Andreas Lubitz."
I say, "Poor Kathleen."
What if the pilot had not mental illness, but heart disease? Would Parker call him a monster? It's time for the dark ages of ignorance about mental illness to be cast aside.
She contrasts the German pilot with Sully Sullenberger and his miracle airplane landing in the Hudson River. Parker says Sully was a "good man, solid and true, reliable, brave and cool under fire." These words could also apply to many people with mental illnesses.
One in four Americans will experience a mental illness this year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI.org. Mental illness is as pervasive as the common cold. By talking openly about it and learning that most mental illnesses are highly treatable and manageable, those who suffer needlessly will have better chances to get treatment and live better lives.
(Agnello is the author of "Shaking Shame from Mental Illness.")