Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Steven Hecht

Committee Member

Marcelo Castro

Committee Member

Tina Jaeckle


crisis intervention, law enforcement officers, mental health, suicide


There is a high prevalence of suicide in people who engage in Suicide by Cop (SbC), a method of suicide that involves provoking law enforcement into fatal use of force. This research study aimed to examine the changes in knowledge about SbC, self-efficacy when dealing with SbC offenders, and empathy toward SbC offenders in response to law enforcement officers’ (LEO) participation in a 30-minute SbC intervention training. This dissertation first introduced information about defining features and prevalence of suicide as a whole and SbC in particular. SbC factors include SbC intent, mental health history, noncompliance with LEO commands, and multiple suicide attempts. This study hypothesized that a 30-minute SbC training would lead to LEOs’ knowledge about SbC, self-efficacy for handling SbC situations, and empathy about SbC offenders to increase.

Fifty LAPD-MEU personnel participated. LEOs completed questionnaires assessing knowledge about SbC, self-efficacy in relation to dealing with SbC offenders, empathy toward SbC offenders, and perceived usefulness of the SbC training. These findings indicated a significant and substantial increase in knowledge, even when experience was taken into account. There was also a significant increase in empathy, but the improvement was small in effect size. Interestingly, there was no longer an effect of improvements in empathy from baseline to posttest when accounting for amount of experience. Self-efficacy findings showed that participants were generally highly self-confident after the training but still feared being involved with SbC incidents. The LEOs mostly agreed that the training was highly useful and recommended the training to colleagues. Thus, in general, the participants positively viewed the training. Furthermore, open-ended questions, using LEOs’ own words, showed that LEOs viewed SbC training positively. Thus, the findings from this study provide strong support that the intervention was a positive step toward developing a standard SbC training for law enforcement departments.