This is the second installment of “Privatizing the Apocalypse,” a four-part essay being published throughout October. Read Part 1: “The 50/50 Murder” here.
In 2015, a depressive young German named Andreas Lubitz killed himself, five co-workers, and quite a few strangers. He was one of perhaps 1,000 suicidal mass murderers to strike that year worldwide. But an unusual combination of two factors put Lubitz in a ghoulish class of his own.
First, he hatched and executed his plans without anyone’s help — which was not remarkable in itself. But the second factor was scale — in that he really killed a lot of strangers. As in 144 of them. Lubitz’s victims hailed from 18 countries and included infants, retirees, and all ages between. He killed dozens of times more people than most rampage murderers and almost three times as many as 2017’s Las Vegas shooter, who is (for now) history’s most prolific lone suicidal gunman.