Suicide by cop and civil liability for police

Suicide by cop (SbC) is a variant of victim-precipitated homicide. In SbC, a citizen intent on dying provokes police, often with credible threats of violence. A fatality results in ambiguity about manner of death (homicide versus suicide). Decedents’ families may raise claims of civil-rights violations, asserting insufficient restraint by officers. Police officers, when questioned, may […]

Tony: Back from the brink.

A victim of childhood violence and neglect, Tony Kalluk spent half of his first forty years in jail or on probation. He was angry, violent; he attempted “suicide by police” but was only shot in the leg. Later something changed; he returned home to Clyde River, became a counselor to others in distress, and started […]

Suicide by cop: Clinical risks and subtypes.

Journal copy held in CSP Library.

Police suicide in small departments: A comparative analysis.

The majority of police suicide research has focused on larger police departments. Very little research has been done within small departments. The present study compared suicide rates between small and larger police departments. The annual suicide rate varied significantly across departments. Smaller police departments had a significantly higher suicide rate than large departments. Possible reasons […]

Effects of a comprehensive police suicide prevention program.

Aims: To evaluate Together for Life, a suicide prevention program for the Montreal police. Methods: All 4,178 members of the Montreal police participated. The program involved training for all officers, supervisors, and union representatives as well as establishing a volunteer helpline and a publicity campaign. In the 12 years since the program began the suicide […]

The secret deaths: Police officer’s testimonial views on police suicides and why suicides continue to be hidden in police departments.


Sexual minority youth victimization and social support: the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, and victimization.

In comparison to heterosexual youth, sexual minority youth are more likely to experience victimization. Multiple studies have connected anti-gay prejudice and anti-gay victimization to negative outcomes. Research shows that social support may protect sexual minorities from the harmful effects of anti-gay victimization. However, rates of victimization and the negative outcomes linked to sexual identity within […]

Suicide by cop in film and society: dangerousness, depression, and justice.

Provoking police officers to kill oneself or Òsuicide by copÓ (SBC) has received scholarly as well as public attention. The extent to which film representations of SBC reflect SBC in society in relation to danger, depression, and other features was assessed in this study. Data on cinematic portrayals of SBC are from 16 American films; […]

Police Reactions to Suicide by cop (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

Suicide-by-cop represents a currently understudied & most probably under-reported phenomenon that deserves serious attention. Police officers are involved in situations in which they not only lose control of the confrontation, but also become the means to the end in a civilian’s death. The phenomenon can be examined from a social psychological perspective by considering the […]

Suicide by cop in North America: Victim-Precipitated Homicide (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter examines the underlying causes of lethal threats against police personnel in North America that can be attributed directly to incidents of suicide-by-cop. Over 500 separate, documented incidents in which police personnel in the United States & Canada have been confronted by a potentially lethal threat are analyzed. In roughly 10% of fatal police […]

Death at the Hands of Police: Suicide or Homicide? (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter explores the medical examiner’s investigative process leading to the final manner of death determination in a “death at the hands of police”. A comparison of police shooting cases investigated by several Chief Medical Examiner’s offices in a large metropolitan area reveals that it varies by office & by examiner. The final classification by […]

Victim-Precipitated Homcide: Incident and Aftermath (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter presents & discusses a set of training materials for police departments aimed at helping police officers cope with victim-precipitated homicide. Materials focus on providing officers with a range of intervention strategies to attempt to reduce the risk associated with these situations for both the officer & the perpetrator. These strategies are intended to […]

Suicide by cop Syndrome: how law Enforcement Successfully can Meet the Challenge (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter discusses the suicide-by-cop syndrome & the role of training. Law enforcement agencies need to provide training that will improve safety, performance, & awareness. A primary concern for law enforcement trainers is properly addressing the balance between giving information & possibly generating hesitation on the part of the officer to react appropriately. In training […]

School Shootings: Implications for Suicide by cop (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter reviews many contemporary incidents of school shootings, displays some commonalities of the involved juveniles, &, most important, highlights how many of these juveniles intended to end the event by drawing law enforcement into a dealy confrontation where the student would die by police deadly force. JA

The Psychodynamics of Suicide in Sophocles’s Plays (IN: Suicide and the Creative Arts, edited by S Stack & D Lester)

This chapter presents an analysis of self-destructive behaviour as depicted by the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles in two of his dramas, “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone”. It is concluded the self-destructive behaviour depicted illustrates some of the psychodynamic processes often present in the minds of suicidal individuals but that the plays do not present new ideas […]

Suicide by cop Among Officer-Involved Shooting Cases

The frequency & characteristics of suicide-by-cop cases among a nonrandom sample of 707 North American officer-involved shootings were investigated. 36% of the officer-involved shootings in the sample were found to be suicide-by-cop with high interrater agreement for category classification. Suicide-by-cop cases were more likely to result in the death or injury of the subjects. Most […]

Attempted Suicide by Cop: a Case Study of Traumatic Brain Injury and the Insanity Defense


Police Officer-Assisted Suicide: a Phoenix Police Chaplain’s Perspective (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter makes 3 points: training can inoculate against grief & helplessness in suicide by cop situations; value-based policing with regard to authority & citizenship security is a teachable moral code that does not violate personal rights or officer safety; & retraining for those with past experience in the military needs to be evaluated because […]

A Typology of Suicide by Police Incidents (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

The authors created a typology of suicide by police by separating 143 such incidents from a database of 174 police shooting incidents. The 143 incidents consisted of 3 categories: direct confrontations; disturbed interventions; & criminal interventions. Direct confrontations presented a lower level of danger to police, but there was a high variability within this category. […]

Suicide by cop: Issues in Outcome and Analysis (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

The authors, a forensic psychiatrist & an assistant city attorney, present findings from their work in suicide-by-cop cases. The following areas are discussed: incident nomenclature & definition; decedent profiles & incident characteristics; psychological sequelae experienced by officers & law enforcement agencies; law enforcement training; & issues arising in subsequent litigation. JA

Identifying the Dynamics of Suicide by cop (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

It is not known how many cases of suicide-by-cop take place in the United States – they are not uncommon. Education is needed to create awareness of the existence & nature of these incidents within medical examiners’ offices, law enforcement agencies, & the judiciary. Credible analysis of the variables & dynamics of these incidents will […]

Law Enforcement-Assisted Suicide: Characteristics of Subjects and law Enforcement Intervention Techniques (In: Suicide and Law Enforcement, edited by D C Sheehan & J I Warren)

This chapter describes historical, personality, behavioural, & situational factors of law enforcement-assisted suicides, which are also known as suicide-by-cop subjects. It also examines intervention tactics used by law enforcement officers during these incidents. Although suicide-by-cop shares several characteristics with other suicide attempts, it appears to be unique due to the involvement of other people. In […]

Preventing Suicide: a Resource for Police, Firefighters and Other First Line Responders

This booklet is written for police officers, firefighters, & other first-line responders who deal with people in psychological distress, including those who are suicidal. Topics covered include: suicide facts & figures; the contribution of police, firefighters, & other first-line responders to suicide prevention; helping someone who is suicidal; when a suicide attempt occurs; when a […]