Masters Thesis

Suicide by Cop: A New Perspective on an Old Phenomenon

Suicide by Cop (SbC) is a method of suicide in which an individual purposely engages in threatening behavior toward police officers in an attempt to be killed. Previous studies have found the prototypical SbC subject is male, mid 30s, with a history of suicidal ideation, disrupted relationships, and prior or current mental health concerns, although these studies have all relied on Officer Involved Shooting reports or public information as sources of data, which tend to only include cases involving lethal force. to address the dearth in knowledge of SbC cases involving no force or less than lethal force, the present study provides a detailed analysis of all identified SbC cases from the Los Angeles Police Department Mental Evaluation Unit’s database that occurred between 2010-2015. Results indicate that similar frequencies are seen with regard to subject characteristics as in previous literature; however, substantial differences are seen across incident and outcome characteristics. Chi square analyses resulted in 15 variables that significantly differentiate subjects across the No Force, Less Lethal Force, and Lethal Force groups. the results of the present study paint a more positive picture of SbC outcomes for police and subjects alike. Implications for training and considerations for police departments are discussed.

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