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Germanwings co-pilot hid illness prior to crash

36 Comments
By GEIR MOULSON and DAVID McHUGH

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36 Comments
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It would seem that in Germany (and probably many western countries) doctors don't inform the employers of their patients if they have a mental illness such as depression even though the patient's work is as critical as an airline pilot. Sounds like it is time for a change in the laws and if anyone disagrees then do a web search as to how many people have been killed by airline pilots going over the edge and crashing their aircrafts.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It gets a bit sensitive with doctor-patient confidentiality. Add to that the uncertainties in human psyche. This guy hid his true issues if indeed he committed murder suicide. Even the flight captain missed his "quirks" sitting next to him....presumably!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

To be honest, I don't understand this situation at all. In Italy, if for example you are taking antidepressants, you can't absolutely even drive a car.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The picture is getting clearer. Here is man who loved to fly, whose whole life was flying. Yet he suffered from depression for whatever reason. It was a matter of time before he would having been disqualified from flying. He did not just snap. This was calculated. He chose the most horrid way to end his flying career and take his anger out on the world.

My sympathies to everyone hurt by this man.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

These stories are just going to encourage jerks to make it harder for people to get anti-depressants and lead normal lives. We need more anti-depressant usage, not less.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

this is beyond sad...... allowing this lunatic to fly a plane is beyond sickening....

hopefully the families sue this airline out of existence and the crazies are monitored more. because it's your 'dream' to fly an airplane doesn't mean you should

ESPECIALLY if you're a frickin' headcase!!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Irresponsible, to say the least.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We need more anti-depressant usage, not less.

I couldn't disagree more. Drugging the population is a way to control the masses while putting money in the drug companies profits, and does nothing to address the base issues causing the depression.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Too bad the physician couldn't warn the airline.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland

Well, while you are working on your pipe dream of a utopia, others need the medication to keep from offing themselves. In a country with a high number of suicides, this is a problem worth solving.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If this guy crashed the plane solely because of depression and I would be a pilot, I would have already crashed 10 airplanes in the same time! So that's nonsense to me. Personally I believe what really happened was that the devil himself appeared in front of him in the cockpit and told him to crash the plane. That's how it must have happened!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well, while you are working on your pipe dream of a utopia

I consider drugging the population in order to increase the profits of drug companies to be your dream of hell on earth.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Yep, it now looks like pilot suicide because of mental reasons. Alas, there is no 100% sure way to prevent such a thing. Airlines are not going to return to a 3-man cockpit, so I hope Lufthansa at least adopts the rule that a flight attendant stays in the cockpit when one pilot has to take a potty break. I understand some US airlines have that procedure in place.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

CrazyJoe: Too bad the physician couldn't warn the airline.

Why not? Did the pilot not include his employer and occupation on his medical history form?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was he taking Prozac? So many of the psychos have been

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It would seem that in Germany (and probably many western countries) doctors don't inform the employers of their patients if they have a mental illness such as depression even though the patient's work is as critical as an airline pilot. Sounds like it is time for a change in the laws and if anyone disagrees then do a web search as to how many people have been killed by airline pilots going over the edge and crashing their aircrafts.

@Hawkeye: as a result, people with depression or other mental problems will lose trust and not consult doctors any more when they fear their career may be disrupted. Things would become worse instead of better. But perhaps some regular and mandatory screening by the airline companies could be a solution.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So some airlines are now saying they won't ever allow a pilot or co-pilot to be alone in the cockpit. But having a cabin attendant go to the cockpit when needed doesn't seem all that foolproof. A pilot could overpower and knock out the CA and proceed with whatever evil he/she had in mind. Of course someone really determined could knock out a fellow pilot....

It seems the only way would be to keep them out of the cockpit to begin with. But I can't think of any foolproof way to do that either.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Here's an idea: All members of the flight crew have emergency ovveride access to the cockpit. No good?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

put a toilet in the cockpit.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I know depression is horrible, but why did he have to murder so many innocent people?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It was a matter of time before he would having been disqualified from flying.

True. It is only Europe that it would be grounds for automatic failure of a medical test and permanent revocation of a license to fly. Pilots can self report taking anti-depressants in the US (and Canada, Australia...) and still return to flying after an intensively monitored period of medical reviews and psychological testing. Making depression something a pilot can be open about, rather than need to hide—or worse, ignore—is definitely a step in the right direction.

Depression in the workplace is actually not that hard to figure when it involves symptoms of reduced energy, impaired concentration and memory, loss of interest in surroundings, slowed cerebration, difficulty in making decisions etc so the biggest filter is going to be reporting from other pilots and colleagues.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I consider drugging the population in order to increase the profits of drug companies to be your dream of hell on earth."

Strangerland, don't swallow your tongue, but I couldn't agree with you more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm no fan of the medication society as suicide rates have not changed. What has changed is the style of suicides which were almost nonexistent 50 years ago. The instant fame with no shame! Not only do the victims families and friends suffer the Lubitz family and friends suffer from the shame of such a "Genetic Defect" which he seemingly chose not to control.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Hawkeye: as a result, people with depression or other mental problems will lose trust and not consult doctors any more when they fear their career may be disrupted. Things would become worse instead of better. But perhaps some regular and mandatory screening by the airline companies could be a solution

@gonemad Tell that to the families and friends of the victims. Airlines policing themselves is not a solution. You have to take the responsibility for the screening to a third party that does not have any financial or other relationships with the airlines. I would be in favor of monthly drug tests and laws being created where certain high risk type of occupations would have mandatory reporting by physicians to a government agency who in turn police the companies where the individuals work.that can adversely affect the public. It sounds like big brother but the time has come where unfortunately we have to give up some of our personal rights and privacy for the good of the whole population.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Also Friday, the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended that airlines in the future always have two people in the cockpit. The move came after several airlines, including Germanwings parent Lufthansa, pledged to impose the measure.

I'd say impose a rule, not recommend. Also have checks more than once a year. Every time we fly, our lives are in the hands of the pilots.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are over 20,000 commercial flights a day in Europe. This is the first time such a tragedy has happened there.

Seems to me people are overreacting.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lmao at the people that think that you can just administer a test for depression like a test for Tuberculosis. I can pass your test and still bring down your plane, I guarantee it. Anyone with a brain could.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There is definitely no screening tool that would reliably root out and prevent the exceedingly rare instance in which a pilot might commit suicide by crashing a commercial airliner. Annual mental health checks for hundreds of thousands of pilots incur tremendous cost and effort and mostly require follow up for pilots that happened to give slightly odd answers on a particular day (mostly false positive results....)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Serrano:

" Here's an idea: All members of the flight crew have emergency ovveride access to the cockpit. No good? "

No good. Making the cockpit door more "open" would help prevent a situation exactly like this, but on the other hand it would make terrorist hijacking easier.

There is always a tradeoff.... you can´t have your cake and eat it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

MarkG: I'm no fan of the medication society as suicide rates have not changed.

Don't a lot of the anti-depressants come with "may increase the risk of suicide" on their warning lists?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Turbostat: Don't a lot of the anti-depressants come with "may increase the risk of suicide" on their warning lists?

Strangerland: Drugging the population is a way to control the masses while putting money in the drug companies profits, and does nothing to address the base issues causing the depression.

Whee, all this talk about anti-depressants has finally made me cave in and comment. Hearing from folks that obviously have no clue on what they're talking about and have no medical education on what exactly certain medications do or how they work.

May increase risk of suicide is only in cases when a patient just up and stops taking their medication. The biggest issue worldwide when it comes to healthcare is patient compliance.

Certain things people are supposed to do from beginning... to the very end. If a person believes that just because they feel better at the moment that they shouldn't continue to take their meds, when they should in fact be communicating and listening to the prescriber until their prescriber tells them they're done with their prescription, then their condition can easily go from bad to worse. Certain anti-depressants are meant to be "weaned" off of close to the end of its therapeutic effectiveness (not abruptly stopped), and in some cases replaced with a different type of medication to taper off, balance, and finalize the effects of the medication.

Many anti-depressants focus on blocking or adjusting specific neuro-chemicals in the brain that cause severe depression. Mostly prescribed for PTSD, Bi-polar, and manic depression. It is not always some temporary environmental or emotional situation that can easily be banished away with "good-feelies" as Stranger is attempting to imply. Although I do agree somewhat about the prices that pharmaceutical manufacturers (and pharmacies) attempt to charge and the slight alterations and wrangling that they practice to keep prices high for a brand name.

If this young man had attempted to confront any mental issues by completing proper therapy, he could have been able to fly with no issues for the company to worry about in time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And.... as it turns out, he was indeed on anti-depressants.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland: Drugging the population is a way to control the masses while putting money in the drug companies profits, and does nothing to address the base issues causing the depression.

Whee, all this talk about anti-depressants has finally made me cave in and comment. Hearing from folks that obviously have no clue on what they're talking about and have no medical education on what exactly certain medications do or how they work.

To review my comment, I was replying to this:

We need more anti-depressant usage, not less.

I never said we anti-depressants shouldn't be used at all, but I'm against giving them out willy-nilly. They should be used sparingly for those in the greatest need, not as a default answer to someone who is a little bummed out because they had a bad week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anti-depressant's aren't given out willy nilly. If they were a prescription wouldn't be required and people could easily buy them over the counter. Mostly diabetic, anesthetic, and heart/circulatory meds are given out much more often. And that's not touching on the anti-psychotic meds that are needed for schizophrenia, paranoia, and other delusional states that are caused by bad brain signals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anti-depressant's aren't given out willy nilly

And once again I'll refer you to the comment I was replying to:

We need more anti-depressant usage, not less.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

HonestDictator: May increase risk of suicide is only in cases when a patient just up and stops taking their medication. The biggest issue worldwide when it comes to healthcare is patient compliance.

I don't see where the NIMH's page on increased of suicide in patients taking anti-depressants relates the increase to stopping the dosage. They DO say to not stop the dosage, elsewhere in the article, so you'd think that if stopping the dosage was what they were warning about, they'd say that explicitly.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/child-and-adolescent-mental-health/antidepressant-medications-for-children-and-adolescents-information-for-parents-and-caregivers.shtml

Antidepressant Medications for Children and Adolescents: Information for Parents and Caregivers

... In 2006, an advisory committee to the FDA recommended that the agency extend the warning to include young adults up to age 25. ...

In the FDA review, no completed suicides occurred among nearly 2,200 children treated with SSRI medications. However, about 4 percent of those taking SSRI medications experienced suicidal thinking or behavior, including actual suicide attempts—twice the rate of those taking placebo, or sugar pills.

In response, the FDA adopted a "black box" label warning indicating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some children and adolescents with MDD. A black-box warning is the most serious type of warning in prescription drug labeling. ...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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