Copycats in pilot aircraft-assisted suicides after the germanwings incident

Tanja Laukkala, Alpo Vuorio, Robert Bor, Bruce Budowle, Pooshan Navathe, Eero Pukkala, Antti Sajantila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aircraft-assisted pilot suicide is a rare but serious phenomenon. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in pilot aircraft-assisted suicide risks, i.e., a copycat effect, in the U.S. and Germany after the Germanwings 2015 incident in the French Alps. Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides were searched in the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigation database and in the German Bundestelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung (BFU) Reports of Investigation database five years before and two years after the deliberate crash of the Germanwings flight into the French Alps in 2015. The relative risk (RR) of the aircraft-assisted pilot suicides was calculated. Two years after the incident, three out of 454 (0.66%) fatal incidents were aircraft-assisted suicides compared with six out of 1292 (0.46%) in the prior five years in the NTSB database. There were no aircraft-assisted pilot suicides in the German database during the two years after or five years prior to the Germanwings crash. The relative aircraft-assisted pilot suicide risk for the U.S. was 1.4 (95% CI 0.3–4.2) which was not statistically significant. Six of the pilots who died by suicide had told someone of their suicidal intentions. We consider changes in the rate to be within a normal variation. Responsible media coverage of aircraft incidents is important due to the large amount of publicity that these events attract.

Original languageEnglish
Article number491
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • Aircraft-assisted pilot suicide
  • Aviation safety
  • Copycat phenomenon
  • Werther effect

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Copycats in pilot aircraft-assisted suicides after the germanwings incident'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this