As if long lines, weather delays and cramped seats aren’t enough of a reason to hate flying, add black box warnings into the mix and it’s hard to be a fan of it any more.  And I’m not talking about the Black Box on the plane that all commercial jets and airplanes are required to have these.  I’m talking about the black box warning on antidepressant medications regarding suicidal thinking.

Obviously these two black boxes are warnings; the Black Box on the plane and the black box on the prescription label. The plane Black Box, consisting of a cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, doesn’t help when a plane is in the air but is vital in the event of a plane crash by helping crash investigators find out what happened just before the plane crashed.  Sort of an “after the fact” diagnostic tool.

The prescription bottle black box on the other hand is also a diagnostic tool but on the front end alerting of a possible risk of suicidal thoughts.  This product labeling is required by the US Food and Drug Administration to all makers of antidepressant medication to warn about the increased risk of thoughts of suicide and or suicide attempts.

The connection is more than the term black box.

In April 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted a ban which prevented clinically depressed pilots (including those undergoing therapy of prescription treatment) from piloting a plane.  What that means is pilots with mild or moderate depression may now fly a commercial plane.  This reverses a nearly 70 year ban. 

I don’t remember reading about this in the news.  Being an overly cautions flier, I would have noticed.

This of course does not mean that a large number of pilots are on anti-depressants by any stretch of the imagination.  But who even monitors how many it is.  And how is someone to know if it is the pilot flying the plane you are on………   

I’ve see someone under the influence of anti-depressants.  And I am not sure I would feel comfortable placing my survival solely in their hands.


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