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China Eastern 737-800 MU5735 accident March 2022

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China Eastern 737-800 MU5735 accident March 2022

Old 8th Jan 2023, 11:40
  #581 (permalink)  
 
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Suicide screening in industry

After a 5 min Google, suicide kills lots of people.

it seems Human Resources best practice is to provide screening and support in all industries, not just industries where a large loss of life can occur !

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/re...lkit-materials

https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/tool...creening-tools

https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2022/...tion-day-2022/

https://hbr.org/2022/01/what-employe...ide-prevention

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/research/re...lkit-materials

there are multiple screening tools, this one caught my eye,
20 seconds isn’t really a large commitment of time for an initial assessment.

The procedure however relies on a strategy in place once someone is assessed as needing further screening !

Still cheaper than having a crash !










Last edited by Turkey Brain; 8th Jan 2023 at 12:19. Reason: Sense
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Old 8th Jan 2023, 12:33
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Some are very good at keeping any mental health issues extremely close to themselves, especially males. Was a male member of my family, late 20s who was having a breakdown behind the scenes, his partner had no idea, employer no idea, nobody else had any idea, we had a day with them only a week prior, I picked up nothing at all.

The moment we all found out was when he didnít return home from work one day, he left work and checked himself into ER. A few years later now he has turned his life around, well we assume he has.
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Old 8th Jan 2023, 15:41
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Secrecy is an issue, and learning answers to expected questions etc. However, I think it is still worth pursuing a system that allows for at least a way to allow for people who are exhibiting health issues.

At the present their is no effective system.

I’m very pleased to know that the person you mentioned was able to get help, even while hiding their health issues.
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Old 8th Jan 2023, 16:49
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It is not an easy subject and ,there are no easy solutions. If they were, some would have implemented them alsready. After Germanwings we all had a deep look inside our organisations to see if there was something to learn ( a lot ) and something to do ( not much) to prevent a similrar situation to hit us in the future. As I said previously , only a good peer ( not management) supervision, and possibly a good trusted CISM team can help. . The officilal Medical side cannot help you ,as they are bound to confdentiality..
We all had courses to detect alchool and drug abuse and know how to deal with that , i.e. rehab, not punish staff, etc.. but nothing on mental health disorders. As was said here already by many, most can hide it very well , even to their close friends. .

Last edited by ATC Watcher; 8th Jan 2023 at 17:55. Reason: typos
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Old 13th Jan 2023, 06:15
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I see no action

Thank you for your reply.

But I have to disagree.

It is an easy subject, all we have to decide is ď is my or anotherís mental health in an acceptable range ? ď


A bit like the introduction to CRM, a bit of a surprise for some of us !

Most people these days are aware of CRM issues, one example working at your natural low, during your WOCL !

CRM is actually used as a tool to assess. Quite a bit of progress/change really.

So we are becoming more self aware of our own failings, being perhaps distracted by emotional events in our lives is also an area where most seem to understand that it affects performance.

So to me it is a less taboo area, especially with maybe more enlightened younger colleagues.

As you said we have had some training on alcohol and drug abuse. Peer support etc, but also a lot of training and guidance.

For example moderate drinking was open to a subjective assessment, so they came up with guidance as to how many alcohol units was moderate and time scales. So some basic training, not just personal guessing. At the time is was needed, the guidance and training, we have come a long way. Now itís common knowledge to plan your drinking or lack of drinking with facts, not just using guess work.

As to no easy solutions, there are many tools it seems, itís just we are not familiar with them. So to me itís just ignorance and institutional blindness.

Aviation is an industry with plenty of rules ! I can see management and the authorities not wanting to create more .

However this is an area, leaving things to chance and ignorance is not acceptable.

Who would not want to have tools in place to prevent the next loss of life. The problem is not going to solve itself, itís not going to go away on itís own !

Regarding Doctors and confidentiality as stated in the German Wings report, doctors have a legal obligation to report a patient if they think there is a risk to the lives of others.

I can see the ethical and moral issues of patients not opening up to a doctor if they believe they will be shopped ! Hence the peer support programs.

But for now, the issue is just a simple tool and some back up for those rare situations when someone is operating below par or even a direct threat to the flight.

We need to act. Burying our head in the sand is one option, but it wonít sit well after the next crash !


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Old 13th Jan 2023, 09:33
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It is an easy subject, all we have to decide is “ is my or another’s mental health in an acceptable range ? “
It is not an easy subject at all.

You can't do that decision with the necessary reliability and correctness, that is the whole issue, and that is why there is realistically not much to do.

Of course people will argue that "even if it saves only one life, it is worth it". But I strongly disagree with that. There is no zero risk life and no zero risk society, and if someone is not prepared to face the extremely low risk of ending in a suicide crash, he can seek other modes of transport. The ramifications of what you advocate on absolutely healthy and spotless crews would be totalitarian.

Aircrew are already the most selected, supervised, checked and tested professional group in the world, but as with everything, there is no 100% in life, never, nowhere. Of course you can seek to improve, but as the Germanwings crash has shown, realistically there was not a lot to do. You can't look into someones brain. That is just how it is. No crew want's to fly with someone suicidal, but it was obviously not possible to spot it in the cases that ended up in a suicide crash.

And by the way: getting rid of the locked cockpit door would immediately bring back the terrorists.

Last edited by 1201alarm; 13th Jan 2023 at 09:44.
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Old 13th Jan 2023, 12:10
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All in all i don't think this is easy one at all,,, you have people suffering from life issues/ mental conditions of various kinds which is not terribly uncommon i believe. Part of that set are possibly suicidal. And part of the suicidal ones are also capable of doing it while onboard a plane in the air. The last group must be very small. Now if the medical community are unable to accurately identify who belongs in the suicidal group accurately, how can anyone expect anyone else to identify the miniscule subset of that group. The ones that are capable of doing it in the air with people onboard.
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Old 13th Jan 2023, 14:27
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Originally Posted by Turkey Brain View Post
... there’s a chance that the relevant airline now have a tick box exercise,

BOX “ are the crew sane...
How do you measure that: with a dip stick?
It is an easy subject, all we have to decide is “ is my or another’s mental health in an acceptable range ? “
No, it isn't.
I am (due to the policies of my employer) subjected to suicide prevention and awareness training about once per year.
The professionals in that field of mental health would be aghast at your assertion.
About 30 years ago, when I was still in the Navy, there was a burst of suicides among sailors on the West Coast that got the attention of higher command, which led (in our airwing) to a great many hours of meetings, briefings and teachings for the officers and senior NCOs on how to improve our suicide prevention efforts.
Here's a clue for you: that Easy Button that you propose wasn't the approach.
Elements of attempts at successful suicide prevention include (1) get to know your people (2) care about your people (3) know what is going on in their lives, and when they are under stress get them help sooner, not later, and (4) be on a constant lookout for life change events that typically cause stress. In an aviation squadron that kind of approach could be implemented if sufficient emphasis were put on it, but that still was no guarantee (the mental health pros were most emphatic about this) that someone would not slip in under the social safety net radar that one would try and put into place.

The bottom line is NOT that this is an easy subject, but is infact a very complex subject thanks to human nature and human behavior, emotions, etc.

As I've had two members of my extended family take their own lives, and a third attempt it but fail, I find your cavalier attitude toward suicidal tendencies or motivations, and suicide prevention, to be risible.
Originally Posted by Clop_Clop
Now if the medical community are unable to accurately identify who belongs in the suicidal group accurately, how can anyone expect anyone else to identify the miniscule subset of that group. The ones that are capable of doing it in the air with people onboard.
Well said.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 13th Jan 2023 at 14:40.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 04:55
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I agree woth most of what you say, actually.

But at the present, we donít do any risk assessment of mental health.

Obviously it is a rare occurrence when oneís mental health or those we work with is cause for concern.

Not everyone hides or is good at hiding their feelings or worries.

With many of the pilot suicides, there were a lot of big life events before and the warning signs were there for family and colleagues.


On those rare occasions when the mental health is fragile we just need to ď steal , borrow ď a best practice way of handling it.

I donít even think we need to develop a new system. These risk assessment tools have already been developed.

We have no system in place, I do believe itís simple.


Most things you have little knowledge about appear complicated at first, so some basic trying wouldnít go amiss.

A trained brain expert, psychologist would have no problem deciding if someone needed a bit of down time, Iím sure.

Maybe there would be some false positives, but it would be a learning exercise for pilots!

Maybe pilots who showed reasons for concern, if they thought about their personal life before reporting for work would realise having certain life events before work, was not wise. I know you canít always chose when to have life events !

But you can chose when to work.

Ideally we could get some comments from mental health professionals, not just pilots.

As an aside, the locked door policy does have some disadvantages, once inside any person with malicious intent is protected from the 200 or so humans wanting to live.

An open door gives access to the people who would like to live.

Obviously this is a different subject for discussion, but the locked door policy does have a bearing on the risks of suicidal pilots.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 05:27
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Apologies Lonewolf 50, I missed your reply before commenting on another post.

Also apologies if my simplistic approach is crass and insensitive. Any training to help others or even recognise issues in oneself should be welcome.

Thank you for your candid comments which make a lot of sense. The action you describe to prevent suicides is sorely missing in some big airlines, I.e. getting to know your staff.

It’s interesting to know that you had training on suicide prevention, but still believe it’s very difficult to prevent.

” Maybe “ in the 30 years since the experts have developed a better understanding of suicide risk and prevention.

I too have experienced a wave of suicides amongst colleagues, the common factor at the time seemed to be an sudden increase in work and at the same time less down time to unwind and recover.

However with your training at least you were given an insight into risk factors and an appreciation of the fact that suicide does happen.
So hopefully you were better able to help someone if you became aware of risks in their life.

So yes there is no simple test, but some basic training and a recognised path to a trained mental health expert for those rare occasions wouldn’t go amiss.

Most of the comments and attitudes seem to be, let’s maintain the status quo. I know we are resistant to change as a group and change for changes sake is definitely not wanted.

However there is a problem = humans commit suicide.

We are doing nothing = indefensible

As stated in the German Wings report, it is very difficult for doctors to assess the Suicide risk on a limited medical, however working colleagues tend to have very close working relationships over extended periods of time.

So to give the co workers some basic awareness of suicide prevention and risks would make sense and cost very little time and effort.

And it may help someone in need.

So why the resistance to a small change?
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 01:16
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Originally Posted by Clop_Clop
Now if the medical community are unable to accurately identify who belongs in the suicidal group accurately, how can anyone expect anyone else to identify the miniscule subset of that group. The ones that are capable of doing it in the air with people onboard.
As said previously, well said.

Had an airborne incident where I for a very brief moment didn't know whether I, copilot and pax were about to meet our maker, fortunately due in no small part to good training we came through unscathed.

That night Spouse and I attended a BBQ and a beer was quite unsettling on the stomach, the first sign of what was to come, the following two days were time off and spouse later said I kept taking showers, not aware of it personally as this conversation took place much, much later. Flying entered an ultra cautious mode, wouldn't allow copilots to fly, CP called me in and said you have to let them fly. Kept going to the GP with odd complaints, can't recall the nature of them now as this all occurred nearly three decades ago, but GP was unable to put a finger on the underlying problem. After eighteen months of this I reached a place where I could understand why people take their own lives, it was not something I personally saw as a viable option, but I did reach such a point of despair that I asked my good Lady to get me to the hospital ASAP where they bombed me out. Four months or so off work and happily returned to the cockpit for another eight years or so of gainful employment before reaching mandatory retirement age.

Diagnosis? PTSD triggered by the inflight event. What I was unable to understand was how an engine failure could so bring about the personal reaction it did where Vietnam events I had I just passed off as another day at the office. It was explained that each event is a thimble full of water placed in a glass, you eventually reach a stage where one thimble full more causes the glass to overflow. Bingo.

The take away lesson though is I worked in a small group of about twenty crews who had an extremely close working relationship and no one ever said "are you OK", though it must have been blatantly obvious I wasn't, nor did the GP, a long time family doctor, recognise what might be going on.

My take away from the experience is the extreme difficulty people have in asking "are you OK" and the difficulty the medical practitioners have in determining mental state. PTSD may be a sub set of the mental condition but it has lead to many suicides in our military cadre post conflict.

Captain of QF 72 was an ex fighter chap and retired early with PTSD following his out of control A330 event, I recommend counseling for any crew who has the misfortune to face such pulse raising events, what ever the cause.

Take care of each other and have the gumption to ask "are you OK".
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Old 16th Jan 2023, 02:12
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While I agree that accurately evaluating somebody's suicide risk is probably very hard, if not impossible, I think focusing on it is somewhat misguided when it comes to saving the lives of others.

Crashing a passenger airplane on purpose isn't suicide, it's "mass murder-suicide". It's my assertion that a very, very small part of the population is capable of doing this, regardless of how suicidal they might be at the time. I've been through some suicide attempts myself, and have thought about it many more times. At no point have I even remotely considered doing something that would risk hurting others in the process. I believe this is true for most people.

Suicide by car isn't that uncommon where I live. While that will always put others at some risk, most people will choose to run into a stone or concrete wall, a tunnel opening or similar, at high speed when there's little other traffic. Some opt to crash into an oncoming truck, and while I find that extremely selfish, the thinking is without doubt still that the drivers of the trucks are mostly "fine" (as long as you disregard the PTSD they suffer from it). I don't think I'm aware of a single "suicide by car" incidents that has involved crashing into an oncoming car. You could argue that also has to do with the fact that death is seen as "more certain" when you crash with an oncoming truck, but regardless. Compared to the total number of suicides, "suicide by car" is also a very small fraction.

I think that if some kind of filtering should be done as to who should be allowed to pilot planes in this regard, the focus should be on weeding out the very few that, if suicidal for some reason, are potentially willing to murder a lot of other people in the process. You have to be pretty self-centered and without empathy to be able to even consider murdering others just because you yourself can't take it anymore.
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Old 16th Jan 2023, 05:22
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You have to be pretty self-centered and without empathy to be able to even consider murdering others just because you yourself can't take it anymore.
Unfortunately here in the U.S. we see, at an all too common rate, shooters kill innocents and then themselves, so the empathy factor can be missing. I post this with no intent of diminishing your profound comments.
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