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Free Content Aircraft-Assisted Pilot Suicides: Lessons to be Learned

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Vuorio A, Laukkala T, Navathe P, Budowle B, Eyre A, Sajantila A. Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides: lessons to be learned. Aviat Space Environ Med 2014; 85:841–6.

Aircraft assisted suicides were studied in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Finland during 1956-2012 by means of literature search and accident case analysis. According to our study the frequency varied slightly between the studies. Overall, the new estimate of aircraft assisted suicides in the United States in a 20-yr period (1993-2012) is 0.33% (95% CI 0.21-0.49) (24/7244). In the detailed accident case analysis, it was found that in five out of the eight cases from the United States, someone knew of prior suicidal ideation before the aircraft assisted fatality. The caveats of standard medico-legal autopsy and accident investigation methods in investigation of suspected aircraft assisted suicides are discussed. It is suggested that a psychological autopsy should be performed in all such cases. Also the social context and possibilities of the prevention of aviation-related suicides were analyzed. In addition, some recent aircraft assisted suicides carried out using commercial aircraft during scheduled services and causing many casualties are discussed.

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Keywords: aircraft; aviation; fatal; forensic; pilot; suicide

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Mehiläinen Airport Health Centre, Vantaa and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Lappeenranta, Finland

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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