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Let’s imagine you have a job where you work directly with the public and one day you walk into your boss’ office and tell her that you are having suicidal thoughts. What do you imagine happens next?

Recently, we’ve seen the news about the Germanwings airplane pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who crashed a plane with over 100 people on it into a mountain. Later reports showed that he suffered from depression and had expressed suicidal ideations. Still, he continued to work, and not only that, he continued to work in an industry where he was directly responsible for the safety of other people. Is this “normal?”

Well, whether it’s in line with what your ideas of normal are, it happens. This time, it happened publicly for the world to see the aftermath of the results of what untreated individuals are capable of when they either prematurely interrupt treatment, discontinue maintenance therapy or when their employers have no means of intervening on behalf of mentally unstable adults.So, what are the alternatives?

How does society balance a person’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to safety? This tends to be the confusing part for most people, therefore I will try to clarify some of the misperceptions about the right to act on behalf of others with suicidal presentations and suicidal intentions.

1. Having suicidal thoughts are very common in people who suffer from depression and other mental health disorders. Someone can have thoughts of harming themselves and never act on it, while others can attempt several times before committing suicide.

You Tell Your Boss You’re Thinking About Harming Yourself, Then What?  was originally published on

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