Suicide by Cop – Warning Signs

Law Enforcement. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. And most people don’t realize how difficult it is for a police officer to turn their brain off from work once they get home. It’s not just something they do. It’s who they are. So, when they are faced with having to deal with suicidal incidents, it can be emotionally draining on them.

Suicide by Cop
When an officer has to respond to suicidal subjects, it directly impacts safety. Safety of the officer, their community, and the families surrounding them. Here are some warning signs to be aware of that can help officers recognize when they might be facing a Suicide by Cop situation (reported by

• The subject is barricaded and refuses to negotiate
• The subject has just killed someone, particularly a close relative
• The subject says he has a life-threatening illness
• The subject has undergone a traumatic life change (divorce, etc.)
• Prior to the encounter, the subject gave away all of his money or possessions
• The subject has a record of assaults
• Subject says he will only surrender to the person in charge
• Has expressed interest in “going out in a big way”
• Subject expresses feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
• Subject demands to be killed

In the book Suicide by Cop, by Vivian B. Lord, it talks about the fact that if a subject wants to be killed, they might be willing to do anything to do it. Including shooting at an officer, just so they can be fired upon.

Resolving the situation as peacefully as possible is obviously the most desired outcome. But it definitely shouldn’t come at the expense of your own personal safety. You must remain aware and vigilant to the fact that a suicidal person might be preparing to die.

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