Andreas Lubitz’s Suicide from Psychological Aspect

Case Description

On March 24, 2015, Andreas Lubitz was said to have committed suicide by crashing Flight 4U9525 into the French Alps consequently killing all those on board (Huggler, 2015). The plane was flying from Spain to Germany, and Andreas allegedly locked his co-pilot out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing the plane. Investigations into the accident revealed that the pilot was suffering from depression and he was on different medications to alleviate his condition. In addition, the available information showed that Andreas was suicidal as he had searched the Internet for ways of committing suicide (Huggler, 2015). He had also written a suicide note indicating his unwillingness to continue living.

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Contribution of Depression to the Case

Depression appears to have contributed largely to the occurrence of this accident. According to Huggler (2015), Andreas was passionate about flying, and it was his childhood dream. Therefore, in December 2014 when he suspected to have developed vision problems, he visited a doctor. The ophthalmologist concluded that Andreas had normal sight. However, the pilot was not satisfied, and he ended up visiting many other eye specialists who gave the same diagnosis. However, Andreas held that his eyesight was a problem. Later on, he visited a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with depression. In March, he was also diagnosed with imminent psychosis, but he did not seek help as recommended by the doctor. It also emerged that he suffered from severe depression in 2008, which interrupted, with his aviation training. It appears that stigma informed Andreas’ decision not to seek help. According to Huggler (2015), if the aviation authorities or the airline where the pilot worked discovered that he had relapsed into depression, it would have been the end of his flying career. Therefore, because flying meant everything to him, Andreas decided not to seek help, which would ultimately end his career prematurely. He feared stigmatization. According to Barney, Griffiths, Jorm, and Christensen (2006), stigmatization associated with mental conditions prevents individuals from reaching out for help.

Potential Issues for a Psychologist

According to the British Psychological Society (2009), a psychologist should consider the supervening legal and ethical obligations. In this case, a doctor would face the ethical issue of whether to report the pilot’s mental condition to the airline company or observe standards of privacy and confidentiality. Pilots are responsible for the lives of many people, and if they are not mentally fit to execute their duties properly, they should not be allowed to fly. On the other side, pilots, just like any other person, are entitled to their privacy, and thus their medical information should be confidential (Wang, Fick, Adair, & Lai, 2007). Therefore, a psychologist dealing with this case would have to make the ultimate decision on how to proceed legally and ethically.

Such Cases are Preventable

I think this tragedy could be prevented for two reasons. First, the psychiatrist who diagnosed Andreas with imminent psychosis and issued a sick note for the pilot to be excused from work between 12/03/2015 and 30/03/2015 should have reported this problem to the authorities. Coincidentally, the accident happened on 24 March, when Andreas was supposed to be on sick leave. Studies have shown that people can recover fully from depression with the right intervention methods (Jorm, 2012; Pilgrim, 2014; Tait, 2003). Therefore, if the pilot had sought help for his medical condition and revealed it to family members, he would have received the necessary treatment and support and recovered to lead a normal life even if it meant not flying again.

References

Barney, L. J., Griffiths, K. M., Jorm, A. F., & Christensen, H. (2006). Stigma about depression and its impact on help seeking intentions. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40(1), 51–54.

The British Psychological Society. (2009). Code of ethics and conduct. Web.

Huggler, J. (2015). Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz kept diary that shows his descent into depression. The Telegraph.Web.

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Jorm, A. F. (2012). Mental health literacy: Empowering the community to take action for better mental health. American Psychologist, 67(3), 231–243.

Pilgrim, D. (2014). Key concepts in mental health (3rd ed.). London, UK: Sage.

Tait, G. (2003). Free will, moral responsibility and ADHD. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 7(4), 429–446.

Wang, J., Fick, G., Adair, C., & Lai, D. (2007). Gender specific correlates of stigma toward depression in a Canadian general population sample. Journal of Affective Disorders, 103(1–3), 91–97.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, March 21). Andreas Lubitz’s Suicide from Psychological Aspect. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/andreas-lubitzs-suicide-from-psychological-aspect/

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StudyCorgi. "Andreas Lubitz’s Suicide from Psychological Aspect." March 21, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/andreas-lubitzs-suicide-from-psychological-aspect/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Andreas Lubitz’s Suicide from Psychological Aspect." March 21, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/andreas-lubitzs-suicide-from-psychological-aspect/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Andreas Lubitz’s Suicide from Psychological Aspect'. 21 March.

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