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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(11), 2525;

Aircraft-Assisted Pilot Suicides in the General Aviation Increased for One-Year Period after 11 September 2001 Attack in the United States

Mehiläinen Airport Health Centre, 01530 Vantaa, Finland
Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Mehiläinen Kielotie Health Centre, 01300 Vantaa, Finland
Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere, Finland and Fimlab Laboratories, 33014 Tampere, Finland
Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG, UK
Centre for Aviation Psychology, London NW3 1ND, UK
Center for Human Identification, University of North Texas Health Science Center, 3500 Camp, Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
The Maitland Hospital, Maitland 2320, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 15 October 2018 / Accepted: 6 November 2018 / Published: 12 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue IJERPH: 15th Anniversary)
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Pilot aircraft-assisted suicides (AAS) are rare, and there is limited understanding of copycat phenomenon among aviators. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible effect the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks had on pilot AASs in the U.S. Fatal aviation accidents in the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) database were searched using the following search words: “suicide”, “murder-suicide” and “homicide-suicide”. The timeline between 11 September 1996, and 11 September 2004, was analyzed. Only those accidents in which NTSB judged that the cause of the accident was suicide were included in the final analysis. The relative risk (RR) of the pilot AASs in all fatal accidents in the U.S. was calculated in order to compare the one, two, and three-year periods after the September 11 terrorist attacks with five years preceding the event. The RR of a fatal general aviation aircraft accident being due to pilot suicide was 3.68-fold (95% confidence interval 1.04–12.98) during the first year after 11 September 2001, but there was not a statistically significant increase in the later years. This study showed an association, albeit not determinate causal effect, of a very specific series of simultaneous terrorist murder-suicides with subsequent pilot AASs. View Full-Text
Keywords: September 11 terrorist attacks; pilot aircraft-assisted suicide; copycat effect September 11 terrorist attacks; pilot aircraft-assisted suicide; copycat effect

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Vuorio, A.; Laukkala, T.; Junttila, I.; Bor, R.; Budowle, B.; Pukkala, E.; Navathe, P.; Sajantila, A. Aircraft-Assisted Pilot Suicides in the General Aviation Increased for One-Year Period after 11 September 2001 Attack in the United States. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2525.

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