Four days following the Germanwings crash, CCHR protesters demand an answer: Was the suicidal pilot on psychiatric drugs?
Following the Germanwings tragedy, CCHR Germany moved to change aviation policy and hold psychiatrists accountable.

On March 24, 2015, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525, from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, intentionally crashed his plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers on board. Andreas Lubitz was on anti-depressants and the powerful tranquilizer Lorazepam when he locked the pilot out of the cockpit and took control of the plane.

Investigations would soon reveal Lubitz had a long history of suicidal tendencies and depression that he had hidden from his employer. His pilot training in 2008 was interrupted due to a “severe depressive episode,” but his psychiatrist cleared him to continue. Records show that after becoming a pilot, he saw 41 different physicians because he was sure he was going blind and he continued to be treated for depression, anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Just prior to the crash, Lubitz saw a psychiatrist at the University of Düsseldorf Hospital for treatment and was declared unfit for work.

But none of this was generally known in the days following the crash and, while the country reeled in the tragedy and the media ran every speculation as to the co-pilot’s motives, CCHR Germany wasted no time demanding the true cause: Lubitz must be a victim of powerful psychotropic drugs that have as a stated side effect, “suicidal ideation.”

Just four days after the crash, CCHR Germany and CCHR Austria organized a protest demonstration at the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) Congress in Vienna, Austria. There was a procession of 400 activists following a black car carrying a coffin and the message, “In memory of the victims of psychiatry.” They distributed a flyer entitled “Suicide Flight after Psychiatric Drugs” that detailed the dangers of psychiatric drugs and demanded that German psychiatrist Wolfgang Gaebel, president of the EPA and head of the very psychiatric hospital in Düsseldorf where Lubitz was treated, answer the question: Was Lubitz under the influence of psychiatric drugs at the time of the crash?

At the EPA Congress, CCHR opened a Psychiatry: An Industry of Death traveling exhibit which was open for public tours for 10 days, revealing the shocking facts of the dangers of psychiatric drugs.

CCHR activist and airline pilot Captain Roland Priester alerted the German Pilots Union, the Federal Agency for Flight Accident Investigation and the President of the German Federal Aviation Administration of the dangerous side effects of psychiatric drugs, including suicide.

Immediately afterward, CCHR Germany filed a penal complaint with the state prosecutor and the Düsseldorf Office of Health and Human Services against the psychiatrists who treated Lubitz, demanding that their licenses be revoked.

Just prior to the crash, Lubitz saw a psychiatrist at the University of Düsseldorf Hospital for treatment and was declared unfit for work.

The team then drafted and sent to more than 980 legislators a white paper in support of legislative actions to protect public transportation from the dangers of psychiatry and to update the criminal code to hold psychiatrists accountable for negligent behavior leading to death.

These fast and coordinated actions by CCHR Germany resulted in an amendment to the German Civil Aviation Act in June 2016. It prohibits aircraft pilots working for German airlines from guiding or operating an aircraft under the influence of psychoactive drugs or alcohol. Aviation oversight agencies must also rigorously and periodically test pilots for these substances to ensure safe transport. The law also requires the maintenance of an electronic medical database to assess the health of German pilots.


As a nonprofit mental health watchdog, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission to eradicate psychiatric violations of human rights and clean up the field of mental health. To become part of the world’s largest movement for mental health change, join the group that has helped enact more than 180 laws protecting citizens from abusive psychiatric practices.