Why Flight Attendants are Committing Suicide and Nobody Cares
“Wow, you have my dream job!” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that I’d probably be typing this on a way nicer computer. Do you have a dream job? Like the kind you wish to have because it looks so exciting and it really doesn’t even feel like work because you’re just loving every single minute of it, yeah that kind of job! I thought that's what being a flight attendant would be, my dream come true in a sense. When in all actuality it was just a magnifying glass targeted at the true loneliness and facade that so many of us ignore during this thing called life. I remember when I graduated flight attendant training 2 years ago, I was living at home and I felt like I hadn’t “been anywhere” or “seen anything.” I had beaten myself up for months because I didn’t have a passport and who doesn’t have a passport at 23??…in hindsight I now know, a lot of people! I watched video after video on youtube of guys and girls sharing their experience about being a flight attendant, saying how excited they were and how being a flight attendant was the best job they’d ever had because it didn’t even “feel like work.” Well they were right about one thing, the job itself is not the hard part, but rather everything else that happens within it.
No handing out coffee, water, tea, and pretzels doesn’t break you, the racist dad of 3 does when he chooses to ignore you during service because of your skin color but asks your white counterpart to serve them instead of you. The five-hour flights to LA are not the deal breakers but rather the grabby pilot who for some reason has to touch your shoulder during the briefing and make unwanted and inappropriate jokes on the van ride to the hotel. No the free flights don’t break you, because you hardly get to enjoy your benefits because you are most likely working so much that you are extremely exhausted or so depressed from being verbally attacked by people from all over the world who have no idea you’ve been running on 3 hours of sleep for the past four days and if one more person blames you for them not getting a window seat you might just crawl into the lavatory and never come out. O and if that hasn’t broken you, try being verbally attacked by a first class passenger who feels entitled and throws their trash on the ground instead of handing it to you and as you walk away makes comments of why it's “your job” to clean up after them because of their “status.” Then when its all said and done and you come back to base you’re greeted with an email from your supervisor, they want to know why their diamond medallion passenger was treated unfairly on flight DL102, you know its because the passenger is entitled and wouldn’t have been satisfied with any service provided to them whether good or bad but again, its all on YOU! I remember my friend one time told me a guy in first class was giving him major problems, being racist and super aggressive, my friend handled it with class and professionalism but was still blamed by his supervisor for not quote on quote, handling the situation better. My response to that is this, in what way could he or should he have handled a racist better? My guess is by just not being a black man at all.
Today a flight attendant friend of mine posted on Instagram that two people had committed suicide a couple of days ago, both were flight attendants. This is the fourth suicide I have heard about since becoming a flight attendant two years ago. I had been flying for approximately four months when I heard about the new hire flight attendant that had hung herself at her six-month anniversary event. She had flown for six months and then decided to kill herself. Today I read on social media that two other flight attendants committed suicide and that one had actually reached out for help via social media, like many in her position, no one listened. My heart breaks because I have been in their position, shortly before my two year anniversary as a flight attendant I quit my job and if I had not quit perhaps someone else would have been writing this article instead of me. I was that close to ending it all, because what do you do when your “dream” becomes a nightmare? What do you do when everyone around you is telling you how lucky you are for being in a position that brings you ultimate sadness and loneliness?” There are thousands of individuals in this career field who are on the verge of giving it all up and believe suicide is the only answer. I am writing this to say I see you, I understand you, and you are not alone. It is hard to start over, but your life is worth so much more. So much more than empty nights drowned with liquor just so you can sleep and have some peace or just forget about how much pain you are truly in. Days become months and months become years, many feel trapped, stuck, unwilling to step away because they’ve become so accustomed to the mistreatment and numb to the pain. Others choose to feel the pain no longer, too many beautiful souls have been lost in this profession, many that we know of but so many others that will never be mentioned. Airlines need to be held accountable, employees are not robots and cannot be treated as such. The amount of hours and availability expected at the beginning of this career is unethical and frankly irresponsible of the airline to expect from any human being. I remember flying countless flights with exhausted flight attendants, with people who if faced with a real emergency on the airplane could have barely saved themselves let alone any of the passengers. This is becoming a problem and the silence must break, lives are at risk. If you know someone in this field, check up on them, talk to them, and really see how they are feeling. It is easy to mask depression, don’t be easily fooled by these answers: “its just part of the job” “It’s what I signed up for right?.” Please pay attention, because a lot of people are really crying for help. I know it all too well.
A Former Flight Attendant.