• Death Certification of ‘‘Suicide by Cop’’

      Neitzel, Amber Rae; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Gill, James R. (The University of Arizona., 2013-03)
      Death certification of ‘‘suicide by cop’’ is controversial among some medical examiners and coroners. We present five such deaths that were certified as suicides and discuss the medico-legal issues involved with these certifications. To certify such a death as a suicide, certain criteria should be met. Suicide by cop is a circumstance that involves competing intentional acts that may result in dichotomous determinations of the manner of death. Despite the absence of direct self-infliction, there is overwhelming evidence that these five individuals intended to end their own lives. Their use of an unusual method to accomplish this goal may inappropriately result in a reflexive certification of homicide. All of the decedents possessed weapons or a facsimile of a weapon. We present five instances of suicide by cop and contend that these types of deaths are best certified as suicides. KEYWORDS: forensic science, forensic pathology, suicide, police, gunshot wounds, manner of death