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Aircraft-Assisted Pilot Suicide: Its Realities and Prevention Strategies
인하대학교 의과대학 정신건강의학교실
Department of Psychiatry, Inha University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
Received: August 22, 2015; Accepted: September 3, 2015
Korean J Aerosp Environ Med 2015; 25(3): 67-70
Published December 31, 2015
Copyright © Aerospace Medical Association of Korea.
The crash of Germanwings flight 9525 was tremendously shocking disaster because it has been turned out that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately descended the plane to the crash site while the pilot locked out of the cockpit. It also has been revealed that Lubitz had been treated for suicidal tendencies before getting his pilot license and was taking prescription drugs for depression and anxiety. Aftermath, international debate took place on the issues of regulatory measures for pilots’ mental illnesses for prevention of aircraft-assisted suicide. In this review, previous results on aircraft-assisted suicide and possible ways of its prevention were discussed. Aircraft-assisted suicide is still very uncommon, accounting for less than 0.5% of all fatal aviation accidents. Suicide can be resulted from complex interactions among bio-psycho-social factors which constitute the “stress-diathesis model”. Excessively strict regulation for depression would foment pilots to conceal their mental problems and it would rather compromise aviation safety. Statistically, the strongest risk factor of aircraft-assisted suicide is being alone in the cockpit (odds ratio=38.7). Overall, it is important to provide easy access to confidential mental health service and to ensure the “rule of two” in the cockpit to prevent pilot suicide and promote aviation safety.