Suicide by Cop a Common Occurrence, Says a New Study

Posted Mar 10, 2009 by Christine Mattice
Suicide by cop accounts for 36 percent of all police shootings, says a new study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Moreover, this form of suicide is likely to bring death or injury to the participants.
Suicide by cop (SBC) occurs when a person who wants to die antagonizes a police officer into shooting, or otherwise injuring, him. Because the death or injuries usually occur during a violent incident with cops, exact statistics on SBC have been hard to compile.
Until now.
Dr. Kris Mohandie, famed police and forensic psychologist, led a team of researchers in an investigation of 707 police shootings in North America. These shootings occurred from 1998 to 2006. The researchers poured through police reports, witness statements, criminal histories of subjects, and other materials concerning these shootings.
Their research revealed that 36 percent of all police shootings were actually SBCs. But don’t think that the suicidal person is the only one at risk for death or injury.
According to Medical News Today.
The study also verifies that suicidal individuals can in fact threaten, injure, and kill others in their quest to commit suicide. These individuals are quite lethal to themselves, with a 97 percent likelihood of being injured or killed. There was [also] a one in three chance of others being harmed during the incident.
But physical injury is just one aspect of harm that these incidents cause. The other types are far subtler. Deirdre Anglin, associate professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine says that these shootings create psychological harm to the police officers, who “second guess” their decisions to shoot. To make matters worse, says Anglin, these shootings are often not recognized as SBCs, but as homicides. This can subject the officer to investigations and legal liabilities.
Mohandie’s study may ease some of these post-shooting traumas for cops. As he told Medical News Today:
It is clear from our research that SBC is a common occurrence among officer involved shootings and must be considered as an issue during post-event investigations.