Well, wouldn't you know it.
CNBC are running with the headline, 'Germanwings crash prompts overhaul, calls for more mental health checks.' - only thing is, the article does not state who is actually 'calling.' Is it the airlines, is it worried passengers or is it those that work in the field of mental health?
On Thursday The Boston Globe ran a very thought-provoking article regarding the 24 US Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012.
The data collected showed toxicology reports for 21 of the 24 pilots. They were unable to obtain toxicology reports for 3 of the 24 pilots.
So, we have 21 pilots to work from.
Out of those 21 pilots, 5 were on psychiatric medication, or at least had psychiatric medication in their bloodstream at the time of the Aircraft-assisted suicide.
Case #8 - Pilot (41) - Diazepam, Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety)
Case #9 - Pilot (40) - Alcohol, Cocaine, Diazepam & Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety), Temazepam (insomnia), Oxazepam (anti-anxiety/depression)
Case #14 - Pilot (54) - Venlafaxine, Desmethylvenalfaxine (depression)
Case #18 - Pilot (44) - Fluoxetine & Citalopram (depression), Diphenhydramine (allergic reactions/motion sickness), Alcohol
Case #22 - Pilot (25) - Alcohol, Citalopram (depression), Clonazepam (anti-anxiety)
It would be churlish of me to suggest that the drugs made them do it so, just like the Boston Globe data, I will show you the other mitigating circumstances.
Case #8 - Marriage proposal declined
Case #9 - Criminal history; suspect of arson
Case #14 - Under therapy for severe depression
Case #18 - History of depression w/ hospitalizations; shortly before the event, he was in hospital for attempted suicide
Case #22 - Distraught over breakup with girlfriend; alcohol and medication consumption prior to accident
Cases 14 and 18, it appears, show that the two pilots were diagnosed with depression and treated with medication. The other three cases don't seem so cut and dry.
Case 8 had a marriage proposal decline yet was found to have Diazepam and Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety) in his system. Was he being treated or did he just manage to get his hands on these tablets? If he was being treated then I cannot see anything in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that states that dealing with a marriage proposal decline is a mental illness.
Case 9 had a criminal history and was suspected of arson, yet in his blood system we find Diazepam & Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety), Temazepam (insomnia), Oxazepam (anti-anxiety/depression). Again, nothing in the DSM about using medication on someone with a criminal history.
Case 22 was distraught over breakup with girlfriend. In his system they found Citalopram (depression), Clonazepam (anti-anxiety). Since when does splitting up with a partner deem someone as being mentally ill?
So, a staggering 23.8% of pilots who took part in Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012 were on psychiatric medication/or had taken psychiatric medication prior to the suicide.
Now, we have more "calls" for mental health checks which will no doubt mean more pilots on psychiatric medication.
Now, let's take a look at the three pilots that they wasn't able to pull toxicology results from.
Case #11 - Restraining order; escorted away from home
Case #16 - Ongoing treatment for depression
Case #24 - Difficulties in personal life; joked about suicide
I think we can be, at the least, 90% certain that case 16 was on some form of antidepressant medication. If this was the case then it pushes the total figure of Aircraft-assisted suicides that were medicated up to 27.2% (6 out of 22 pilots)
If case 24 had difficulties in his personal life and was being treated, just as case numbers 8, 9 and 22 were, then the figure rises again to 30.4%
However, we cannot speculate.
The fact still remains. 23.8% of pilots who took part in Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012 were on psychiatric medication/or had taken psychiatric medication prior to the suicide.
Now let's breakdown the list of drugs.
Side Effect Reports – By Outcome
Completed suicide (1,885 reported)
Nordiazepam is the primary metabolite of diazepam
Completed suicide (1,885 reported) (diazepam)
Completed suicide (543 reported)
Completed suicide (87 reported)
Completed suicide (1,818 reported)
Completed suicide (147 reported)
Completed suicide (1,560 reported)
Completed suicide (2,191 reported)
Completed suicide (1,924 reported)
I don't know about you but I'd much rather know if a pilot was on antidepressant-type medication given the above results, wouldn't you?
Now, here's the rub folks.
On April 5, 2010, the FAA announced that pilots who take one of four SSRi antidepressant medications – Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Citalopram (Celexa), or Escitalopram (Lexapro) – will be allowed to fly if they have been satisfactorily treated on the medication for at least 12 months.
Two from that list, namely Fluoxetine and Citalopram, were found in the toxicology reports of pilots #18 and #22.
It begs the question, why did the FAA, in 2010, announce that pilots would be allowed to fly on 4 SSRi type medications, two of which have since been found in pilots who have used an aircraft as a choice of suicide?
Will be interesting if German authorities release details of the prescription medications they found in the apartment of Andreas Lubitz, although I suspect the media will focus on his state of mind rather that what prescription medication may have contributed to his state of mind.
It ain't rocket science folks but the mainstream media are still missing the bigger picture, as are the FAA and other aviation authorities.
**Completed suicide figures obtained from RxISK drug database.
Co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz Germanwings
Andreas Lubitz - The Drugs Don't Work.
SSRIs Render Unfriendly Skies.
Documents obtained from the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act.