PoliceOne Staff Report (CALGARY) -- One of the country’s leading researchers on “suicide by cop” believes that approximately 10 percent of all persons killed by police in Canada have deliberately used officers as a means of committing suicide.
Rick Parent, a 21-year police veteran and a constable in suburban Vancouver, told the Calgary Herald that he based his death-wish findings after studying 200 fatal police shootings in Canada since 1980. He also found that most police shootings occur when a suspect flees.
But up to 35 per cent of the shooting cases involve confrontations that leave officers no option but to use lethal force, Parent told the newspaper.
Parent said that the city’s fifth fatal police shooting since 1980 may also have been a suicide by cop.
Arthur George Provencal, a 34-year-old career criminal, was shot to death Saturday at a pharmacy after holding a large knife, taking several hostages and demanding a lethal dose of a narcotic.
Police told the newspaper that the first officer to arrive at the scene gave the man several warnings to drop the knife before shooting him in the head.
Parent said that he has interviewed 50 officers who have killed in the line of duty and found that suspects have many reasons why they want to be shot by the police.
"The bottom line is that some individuals do not necessarily want to get away," Parent told the newspaper. "They confront the police on purpose."
Parent also stated that suicidal tendencies, mental illness or substance abuse prompts the behavior.
"In a bravado, substance-abuse situation, the individual is so confused and irrational that they egg on the police officer to kill them," Parent told the Herald. "It's like a game of chicken to see what happens. They want to go out in a blaze of glory."
Why do about 10 percent of police shooting victims in Canadawant to use cops to kill them rather than just commit suicide themselves? Parent thinks he has an answer.
"It's difficult to take your own life," Parent told the newspaper. "We have a physiological defense mechanism. We recoil from it, like pulling your hand away from a fire. Your instinct is to protect yourself." Parent also noted how the shooting of suspects leaves traumatic scars on the officers involved.