Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 15, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Family members mourn Nunavut victim of police shooting

Police trained to consider "suicide by cop" when assessing volatile situations

Jeremy Nuvviaq, 39, died at his home in Hall Beach May 1 after an altercation with police. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NUVVIAQ FAMILY)
Jeremy Nuvviaq, 39, died at his home in Hall Beach May 1 after an altercation with police. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NUVVIAQ FAMILY)

On May 1, Jeremy Nuvviaq filled his Facebook page with a number of posts: a quote about a father’s love for his children; a note to his girlfriend—“I’m sooo lucky to have you”—and recipes for chicken tacos and carrot cake.

By 10:30 p.m., his mood had clearly shifted, when Nuvviaq posted “I hope you watch this suicide by cop.”

Around the same time, the 39-year-old began live-streaming a video from his page, threatening suicide, crying and holding what appeared to be a gun under a blanket.

The video stopped before RCMP officers were called to his Hall Beach home. The officers attempted to de-escalate and negotiate with Nuvviaq, but were unable to, the RCMP later said in a news release.

An officer finally shot Nuvviaq, who died later from his injuries.

Some of Nuvviaq’s family members got a call at about 1 a.m. with the news. One relative, who didn’t want to be named, went down to the health centre to see his body.

“It’s really difficult,” said the family member, whom we will call Mary. “It’s all of a sudden.”

Mary, who spoke to Nunatsiaq News, had seen some of the live-stream earlier in the evening but she said it looked as if Nuvviaq had been drinking.

She worried he would be too violent to talk down—even though she believes he held a pellet gun under his blanket and not a real rifle.

Mary doesn’t blame police for how they responded to Nuvviaq’s crisis, but she does believe his death was preventable.

She had seen Nuvviaq earlier that same week and said he appeared happy and optimistic.

Nuvviaq was living with his common-law partner and step-son before he died. He had other children living in Arctic Bay.

He had just graduated from Nunavut Arctic College’s Getting Ready for Employment And Training (GREAT) program, a 14-week job skills course, and was looking for work.

“I think he had a lot of problems and he never talked about it,” Mary said. “He never asked for help. He told me before he could control himself.”

But Mary said it wasn’t the first time Nuvviaq had talked about suicide at the hands of the police.

“Suicide by cop,” also known as victim precipitated suicide, is an actual phenomenon recognized by police forces.

The RCMP said its officers are trained to consider “suicide by cop” as a possibility in terms of their risk assessment when responding to a call involving a suicidal individual.

Nuvviaq couldn’t have made his intentions much more clear May 1.

Suicide by police, or suicide by cop, happens when an individual wants to die but wants someone else to kill them. So they provoke an officer to create a situation in which the officer is forced to shoot them.

A 2009 American study called “Suicide by Cop Among Officer-Involved Shooting Cases” looked at the phenomenon, finding that 36 per cent of those incidents could be categorized that way.

The study, written by a pair of California academics, found that 95 per cent of the subjects involved in those cases were male, while 62 per cent of all subjects had a confirmed or probable mental health history.

In one in five cases, the individuals used an unloaded or fake weapon to encourage a response.

“It is clear from our research that [suicide by cop] is a common occurrence among officer involved shootings and must be considered as an issue during post-event investigations,” the study concluded.

The Ottawa Police Service has been tasked with investigating the shooting death given that it involved RCMP officers.

A spokesperson for the OPS’ major crime unit told Nunatsiaq News last week the force could not offer a timeline for the investigation, nor would it share the investigation’s final results publicly. The RMCP could comment on the results though, he added.

Nunavut RCMP communications officer Sgt. David Lawson, who also serves as chair of the Embrace Life Council in Nunavut, called Nuvviaq’s death, and ‘suicide by cop,’ a “rare occurrence,” though something the council will likely discuss.

“In saying that, whether these incidents happen as ‘suicide by cop’ or in a different form, they usually stem from the same issues and problems and it’s these things we try and tackle [and] improve,” Lawson said.

In Hall Beach, Nuvviaq’s family held a funeral for him last week.

Jackie Nuvviaq is mourning his brother’s death; the two were close and often met for coffee. He said he saw his brother just days before his death and he appeared to be in good spirits.

Jackie said all he can do now is try to move forward; he’s trying not to dwell on the past.

“He wanted to leave this world and now he’s gone,” he said. “I hope everyone can find peace.”

If you are in need of support or have thoughts of suicide, here are toll-free numbers you can call to speak to someone:

• Kamatsiaqtut Help Line, 24-hours a day at 1-867-979-3333 or, toll-free from Nunavik or Nunavut at 1-800-265-3333

• Residential school crisis line 1-866-925-4419 (Inuktitut, English, French)

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(14) Comments:

#1. Posted by Judith Burch on May 15, 2017

Such a tragedy….
Definitely need more mental health professionals to help people who are suffering.

#2. Posted by Sasha Eecheak on May 15, 2017

I do not like this page , please delete or get rid of this ! It hurts me so bad reading what you guys are writin !!! Please respespct the family right now ! I do not want anything revealed right now because I am the daughter of the victim

#3. Posted by More Than You Know on May 15, 2017

This happens more than you know - it is not rare.
Police should walk into this situation ready to disable the person by shooting in the arm or leg, not to aim where it will kill.
I strongly doubt they have that much training in this issue.

#4. Posted by Trigger Hippie on May 15, 2017

There’s something wrong with a situation in which it is known that someone’s goal is to die the way Jeremy did, yet the police still play straight into it. Surely there’s a better way?

I also wonder if we will ever see the recovered weapon? Some say it was a toy. It would be interesting to settle that.

#5. Posted by Lori Cameron on May 15, 2017

We send our sincerest condolences to his loved ones.

#6. Posted by Vitaline on May 15, 2017

He dint have a pellet gun Mary it was Joseph toy gun the cops left the toy gun with the towels at my porch but they took dels pellet gun

#7. Posted by misty on May 15, 2017

i dont want this to be in internet (facbook)
they don’t have to know everything!!!!
its a family matter!!!!
they won’t feel what we have feeled!!!
or ar eyou guys just tryna teach them how to do it??
alot of people have anger inside them!!! what if one of the readers do the same thing as he did??
just “STOP” giving informations!!!

#8. Posted by Jomie on May 15, 2017

He had a toygun u can see it clearly when u watch the video clip…..fucken cops these days! They think they have all the rights but they dont.Condolences to his lovedones.

#9. Posted by Nunavummiut on May 15, 2017

This is an absolutely horrible article on several fronts to the point I’m considering boycotting this news site. Firstly no consideration for the family. Half the information is repeated from previous articles and the reporter is really fishing for information when we know everything will come out in a proper inquest, why try and bring this already horrible incident for all involved even worse and let people comment on details of the incident when it’s being investigated, no different then a matter before the courts? Come on Nunatsiaq, you guys can be so much better.

#10. Posted by uncle bob- on May 16, 2017

I wish the police would be trained in how to de escalate an issue by backing off and waiting for the person to calm down.
I feel so sad over the unnecessary death of this young man who had so much potential with his new college qualifications.
I am sorry for intruding in this moment of the families grieving, but I feel that this needs to be said as this is not the first time this has happened.

#11. Posted by Common Sense on May 16, 2017

The police are in a lose/lose situation in the public eye in instances like this. They see a man with a weapon and cannot verify if it is real or not. The person is acting aggressive and moves toward them. Do you as the police officer do nothing and risk your life or do you act? You can see the person has a weapon. It looks realistic. What if it is real?

On the other hand if the police “back off and wait for the person to calm down” and that person then goes and hurts/kills themselves or others the police are also to blame in your eyes. Don’t put the blame in the police in this situation. Blame the GN. Blame the Health Department for not providing adequate services. The police are just doing their job. They aren’t mental health professionals.

I do not work for the police nor have any history of police in my family either before that argument starts up lol.

#12. Posted by Skwaddy on May 16, 2017

Very good and true,#11.
It is pure hellish to have a firearm, with some angry person behind it.
I can see Jomies point #8, but like every profession you have good
and bad.
In kitikmeot long time ago a young policeman put away his firearm
and approached man with a rifle. The young policeman was shot dead.
Leaving a wife and two small children.

#13. Posted by Makela on May 17, 2017

Greetings to all fine Canadian people!
Many years ago I lived in a very troubled part of Africa, conditions were
terrible, much hunger and death.
One day our small village, 200 people, received 30 Kalishnakovs and
6,000 bullets and 2 British and 3 German mercenaries to instruct us in their use, maintenance. Very important.
The next time robbers and brigands came, they got the shock of their
lives and left behind 40 dead. The bullets had become law,sad.
I am so glad that I and my family live in the great country of Canada
with its good system of law and order.

#14. Posted by Info Please on May 18, 2017

I want to see the weapon. When will the RCMP release a picture of it? Will they?

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