Suicide and Lethality

Risk Factors

We must not underestimate the danger of domestic violence homicide and/or suicide in officer-involved domestic abuse. Known risk factors include the batterer's previous suicide threats, access to firearms, and suspicion that the victim is planning to escape. Two of the most significant predictors of murder and/or suicide among law enforcement officers are problems on the job and problems in the intimate relationship.

An internal investigation, and if warranted a criminal investigation, may be undertaken when a victim's allegations are credible and serious enough. Either type of investigation is extremely threatening to an officer and is a dangerous time. The threat of being investigated and found guilty (administratively or criminally) may be enough to escalate the abuser to the point of homicide and/or suicide. The victim's safety — and even that of all who help her — greatly depend on the injtegrity of fellow officers, supervisors, chiefs, and prosecutors.

Advocates, attorneys, counselors and other professionals working with the victim must review the process, implications and safety concerns associated with an internal investigation. Removing an officer's weapon may increase the risk of suicide because of its association with loss of career and identity as an officer. An abusive officer may decide that he has nothing more to lose when facing dismissal.

Things to consider:

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