Aircraft-Assisted Pilot Suicides in the United States, 1993-2002

Our laboratory was interested in epidemiological and toxicological findings from aircraft-assisted pilot suicides. Between 1993–2002 there were 3,648 fatal aviation accidents. The NTSB determined that 16 were aircraft-assisted suicides; 15 from intentional crashing of an aircraft and 1 from exiting the aircraft while in-flight. All pilots involved in these aircraft-assisted suicides were male, with a […]

Suicide by Aircraft: a Comparative Analysis


Suicide by Airplane: a Conundrum for Screening

This editorial discusses suicide by airplane. Several known incidence of suicide are discussed including a SilkAir 737 which crashed into Indonesia’s Musi River killing 104 passengers & staff. EgytAir Flight 990 is presented as a possible suicide attempt. The author notes a lack of accurate suicide assessment among pilots, stating the screenings are infrequent & […]

Suicide by use of Aircraft in the United States, 1979-1989

This study used several sources of mortality data to describe aircraft crash-related suicides in the U.S., during 1979-89. The number of deaths due to aircraft crashes of undetermined intention (20) was twice the number of deaths due to suicide (10). All 10 pilots intentionally crashing a plane were male, 9% white, 1% other, their median […]

Suicide by Aircraft

A Samurai’s Last Letter Home

During WWII, many Japanese pilots were trained to undertake kamikaze flights. Such a mission involved flying the airplane into an enemy target, such as a ship or military unit. This letter was written by a 23-year old Japanese pilot prior to his suicidal flight. The pilot’s name was Teruo Yamaguchi.

Divine Wind – Desperate Reenactment of an Ancient Legend

This article is about the Kamikaze attacks of the Japanese during World War II. The word “Kamikaze” refers to a “divine wind” that is believed to have destroyed a mongol fleet attacking Japan in 1570. Kamikaze pilots willingly faced death in the belief that their sacrifice would change the fate of their war ravaged nation. […]

Programmed for Destruction

The psychological postmortems of experienced pilots often uncover a typical abrupt change in the behavior of the incipient victim just before the crash. The author suggests that any pilot who becomes aware that he is behaving irrationally, for any reason, should avoid flying. Dr. Yanowitch of the FAA Office of Aviation Medicine believes development of […]

Suicide by Aircraft: A Case Report

A psychological autopsy, of a 36-yr-old pilot who crashed his aircraft into the ground at high speed, yielded strong presumptive evidence of an unrecognized depression in a man with manipulative & mildly antisocial characteristics. Includes comments on the role of psychological autopsy in aircraft accident investigation, anniversary reactions, the use of psychiatric diagnosis to support […]

Aircraft as an Instrument of Self Destruction

This article describes the relationship between the pilot and his aircraft, and how the competent pilot practices and acquires skills which help him deal with the stress of demanding flight situations. The authors also discuss, concepts and constructs of self-destructive behavior, stress, coping mechanisms, competence, and the myth of invulnerability, are defined, illustrated and related […]

Aircraft Accidents and Human Factors

The days of “pilot error” and “cause undetermined” findings in aircraft accidents are past. In-depth consideration of human factors, both intrinsic & extrinsic, & the addition of flight recorder & cockpit voice recorder data now allow more definitive evaluation of all the human factors involved in each accident. Public acceptance of human frailty has not […]

Homicide and Suicide by Aircraft

A report of simultaneous homicide & suicide by aircraft is presented. This confirms the view of Phillips (Science, v.201, (1978) 748-750), that despite the previous absence of similar reports in the history of civil aviation, such incidents may occur, & that therefore murder & suicide should be considered as a possible cause of aircraft accidents.

Suicide by Private Pilots

This brief article discusses risk-taking behaviours by private pilots. It is stated the physicians who are responsible for the medical supervision of private pilots should be careful to expose any psychiatric history which may lead to irresponsible behaviour under stress. Factors are mentioned which may place pilots at greater risk for suicidal and other self-destructive […]

The Psychosocial Reconstruction Inventory: A Postdictal Instrument in Aircraft Accident Investigation

A new approach to the investigation of aviation accidents has been initiated, utilizing a follow-on to the psychological autopsy. This approach, the psychosocial reconstruction inventory, enables the development of a dynamic, retrospective portrait of the pilot-in-command subsequent to an accident. 12 fatal accidents were studied this way in 1971. When accident investigation is supplemented by […]