I have written in recent times about the seven suicide decisions that are various ways of thinking about how a person will attempt to end their life.
One of these is “I will get you to kill me” or death by cop. This is nothing new to the literature which has long discussed this method of suicide. Of course rampage shootings are often a good example of this method. The individual sets about killing people in public knowing that in a very short space of time there is going to be a large groups of police that will pursue him with great vigour and lethal intent.
Indeed the event yesterday in the United States shooting at the synagogue was a good example. These are not primarily murders they are primarily suicide attempts. If he wanted to just murder then he would do it in secret, like plant a bomb. Instead he did it in a way knowing full well there was a very real possibility he would be shot dead. Apparently has was indeed shot a number of times by the police but did not die. This was a very serious suicide attempt by this man.
However since then it has been reported in the news that the US Attorney General will seek to have this treated as a hate crime as that could then lead to the death penalty.
Whilst it is understandable some people would want such a penalty, the effect of this may be a completely unwanted one. That group of like minded people out there watching this on the news now know that if you do a hate crime then if the cops don’t kill you at the scene then the state will try and kill you afterwards with the death penalty. There is no deterrent effect, if anything there is the opposite effect.
Also as is well documented in the literature media reports of suicide can often lead to copy cat attempts. It is possible that in subsequent months those people who have made the decision “I will get you to kill me” may attempt to copy this event in some way.