Suicide by Police: An Alarming New Trend


Suicide by Police: An Alarming New Trend

by Michelle Kaminsky

Dec 2009

In March of this year, a man wielding two meat cleavers entered a day care center in Madison, Wisconsin and slashed one of the teachers in the head, arms, and shoulders. When two veteran police officers arrived, they saw no other choice but to shoot and kill the perpetrator, Gregory E. Velasquez. The actions themselves, although deeply disturbing, are unfortunately not entirely shocking in this day and age; however, the coroner’s ruling the death “suicide by police” may be for some.

Suicide by police is an alarming new trend that has police departments across the country worried, and for good reason. It seems to be occurring with more frequency—the three examples discussed below happened within the last several months.

This method of suicide occurs when someone intentionally acts in a menacing way toward law enforcement officials in order to provoke the use of deadly force. The person is often depressed and/or despondent and wishes to die, but for some reason does not want to commit suicide directly. Often times, the person doesn’t even brandish a viable weapon, often wielding an unloaded weapon or even a toy pistol or starter gun.

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