Firearm suicides during confrontations with police

R. C. Harruff, A. L. Llewellyn, M. A. Clark, D. A. Hawley, J. E. Pless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We reviewed the case records of suicides in Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis and in surrounding counties from 1984 through 1992. Out of 1203 suicides, there were 14 in which armed, on-duty police officers were confronting, pursuing, or apprehending the subject of the death investigation. All subjects were male, and the peak age range was 30 to 34 years. The head, especially the right temple, was the usual site of the fatal wound. More than half of the incidents started as domestic disputes with a wife or girlfriend. Many of the others occurred when police officers pursued or arrested a suspect wanted for a previous felony. Ethanol was involved in less than half of the cases, and drugs were not a factor. In at least four cases, the presence of police was a factor that precipitated the suicide. The histories of the 14 cases demonstrate the potential for controversy and the challenges for forensic scientists investigating suicides during police confrontations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-411
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


  • autopsy
  • deaths in custody
  • forensic science
  • gunshot wounds
  • pathology and biology
  • police confrontations
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Genetics

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