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Tuesday, December 6 • 10:35am - 10:55am
Murdered For Mental Illness: Examining The Connections Of Identity, Law Enforcement Interactions, And Police Assisted Suicide

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The scarcity and inaccessibility of behavioral health resources in the United States often leaves citizens dependent on police for assistance with mental health crises. According to Washington Post data documenting fatal police shootings, at least one fourth of people murdered by police in the United States in 2015 had a mental illness. However, there is still a relative lack of research on the details of lethal use of force against mentally ill individuals. Preliminary results of an ongoing content analysis of news sources found in the 2015 Washington Post database of police shootings reveal that an overwhelming percentage of cases exhibit evidence of police assisted suicide. Police assisted suicide refers to the common tactic of individuals in mental health crises utilizing police use of force to complete their suicide. Knowing that the police often use lethal force against individuals who are deemed as a threat, suicidal individuals mimic those behaviors to provoke the police to shoot them. Data also revealed that many of the deadly altercations were initiated through a welfare check requested by family or neighbors. Both trends give rise to the necessity of addressing law enforcement’s relationship with mental health service. Quantitative analysis of 2015 and 2016 databases also reveal trends pertaining to race, gender, signs of mental illness, and the intersection of those factors in regards to police interactions. Such trends elicit the need for further research.


Tuesday December 6, 2016 10:35am - 10:55am PST
237 Zageir Hall

Attendees (2)