Old May 30, 17, 6:56 pm
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Grounded until Q3 2021
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Originally Posted by KLouis View Post
Could you also tell us how many cases of "suicide by plane" there have been and whether the stats allow for a country-specific risk assessment. My guess (only a guess!) is that these will be much weaker than the usual (in)famous medical statistics (don't start "screaming", I'm a medic myself ).
You ask a leading question because we all know that the frequency of suicide by plane is quite low. However, I will turn it back on you by stating that a majority of the recent passenger jet crashes by suicide involved a pilot locking others out of the cockpit. Examples are EgyptAir 990, LAM 470, and GermWings 9525.

There are not many studies using large data pools. However, a starting point is here;
“Airplane Pilot Mental Health and Suicidal Thoughts: A Cross-sectional Descriptive Study via Anonymous Web-Based Survey,” Alexander C. Wu, Deborah Donnelly-McLay, Marc G. Weisskopf, Eileen McNeely, Theresa S. Betancourt, Joseph G. Allen, Environmental Health, online December 14, 2016, doi: 10.1186/s12940-016-0200-6 (Study funded and conducted under auspices of Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.)

1848 people from 50 countries responded, although the majority who responded were from 3 countries (Canada, USA and Australia). Pilot unions >5 unions), airline representatives (>65 airlines), pilot groups (>12 groups), and aviation safety organizations (>2 organizations) were involved. 3485 surveys were downloaded by December 31, 2015. The takeaway was the significant number of pilots with mental health issues.

If we apply this to the general population pool, we can model with confidence the expected numbers in any given country specific pilot population. In countries where a rate of suicide is higher, it is not unreasonable to expect that those countries' pilots would also demonstrate a higher frequency.

My opinion is that the presence of someone in the cockpit acts as a deterrent. Both as a physical and as an emotional deterrent. As several failed attempts have shown, there have been physical interventions. More importantly, the presence of someone is an emotional deterrent because it can dissuade a person predisposed or borderline from carrying through with a deviant behavior. If you take into consideration the common approach to "jumpers", the mere presence of someone in proximity acts to calm the jumper and facilitates the avoidance of a fatality.
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