Suicide by Cop: “is Common”


In the latest incident of “to call or not to call” the police it appears that cops killing individuals in Montana has become normalized:

A welfare check near East Helena late Thursday night led to an officer-involved shooting that left the suspect dead…

A caller reported a male at the residence was bleeding from self-inflicted injuries and might be armed with a handgun.

Deputies attempted to engage the male in verbal negotiations, but ultimately a deputy had to fire his weapon to protect himself and other individuals present at the time, [Sheriff] Dutton said. As is common in incidents of this nature, the deputy is currently on administrative leave, Dutton said. [emphasis added]

Of course, I expect that few care anymore that an attempted suicide leading to a cop shooting, and a “mercy killing” of the downtrodden has become de rigueur these days.

Numbness to the news of the constant tragedies that surround our communities has taken its (intended?) toll. So lets keep cutting those public and mental healthcare budgets, laying off case workers, and squeezing the (budgetary) life out of counseling and treatment facilities.

Paying for administrative leave for cops appears to have become a cheaper — and common — way to balance budgets and guarantee tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals than paying for an adequate level of caseworkers or crisis response training for police. And hey, one less depressed, suicidal individual to have to cover with Medicaid and/or other public services — bonus!

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4 Responses to Suicide by Cop: “is Common”

  1. Ambrose Rey says:


  2. Eric says:

    It is too common JC – and we’ve gotten numbed to it because it’s happening every week it seems.

    I’m not sure what the answer is.

  3. The answer is to develop relationships in your own police departments, to have those conversations about military equipment and simply learning deescalation tactics.

    • JC says:

      Sure, Carla, there’s lots of ways to deal with this. What struck me is how reporting like this, and the public response to it has taken on a striking “normalization”, meaning that few people question what really happened.

      The next day the HelenaIR updated the post with the following statement:

      “This is the first officer-involved shooting in Lewis and Clark County since 2013. ”

      How a reporter can make the statement “As is common in incidents of this nature” to an event that was a once in 4 year happening in Helena is beyond me. It goes to show that the problem isn’t just the tragedy of the suicidal individual, the police who respond, or the way the event unfolds, it also is about how the media responds, reports and we as a supposedly caring public digest all this and take action.

      I just refuse to accept that a police killing a suicidal individual, and the way they police department deals with it has become “common.”

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