The Negotiator Magazine

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Why would a person ask the police to kill them?

31,000 people a year commit suicide.    Another 775,000 person’s attempt suicide.   The reasons vary from person to person.    Loss and rejection are the two most common reasons for a person to commit suicide.    Loss of a job, loved one, or rejection of a loved one (divorce or relationship ending) will cause a person to become depressed.   Untreated Depression is the #1 cause of suicide.

But why chose the police as the vehicle of their death?     Victim Precipitated Suicide (VPS) or “Suicide by Cop (SBC) has been studied for many years and is a recognized phenomenon by both investigators and the legal system.    SBC is the term professionals in the field prefer, but “Suicide by Cop” implies to the uninformed the idea the police officer involved had a “say” in the incident, where in fact, these incidents are entirely suspect driven (notice the term suspect is used throughout this report- not subject).  New terms such as “Victim Precipitated Homicide” or “Victim Precipitated Suicide” are acceptable and more accurately describe the circumstances of these incidents.

In a 1998 The Los Angeles Sheriff Department (LASO) completed the most comprehensive study of SBC to date. They examined 437 Officer Involved Shootings (OIS).   Of the 437 OIS, 11% were determined to have SBC characteristics (i.e.… subject told others of a desire to die, engaged in high risk behavior, pointed a weapon at law enforcement, etc...)

Gaining as much intelligence about the subject and the situation is paramount in ensuring the safety.   This process starts with dispatch and communications personnel.    Listening and asking the right questions will provide the responders a clear picture of the situation they are responding.

In the LASO Study, 50% of SBC subjects were intoxicated at the time of the incident.   Alcohol/drugs allow a person to overcome their inhibitions and become more impulsive (i.e.. lethal).   Domestic Violence calls comprised the majority of SBC incidents (42%).    Drugs/Alcohol and domestic violence go hand in hand.     (Pamela has a history of drug abuse, but is not under the influence at this time)

SBC subjects will normally choose a familiar place to complete their final act.    In the LASO Study, 72% occurred in the home.    It is very dangerous at this point for police to “invade another mans territory.”   A mans home is his castle.    People have been known to fight to the death in defense of the castle.    If at all possible, have the suspect exit his home- do not go inside after him/her.   (Pamela led the pursuit to the church parking lot- HER CHURCH PARKING LOT).

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September 2006