This blog hasn’t explored the issue of suicide as protest, but I’d like to point out this story about Tibetans burning themselves to death, as a reminder that people shouldn’t too dismissively throw around terms like “just a cry for help,” “making a gesture” or even “throwing a tantrum.” As rare as it may seem, in some cases people know exactly what they are choosing to do, and why.
“To many Tibetans, they are carefully reasoned attempts to bring attention to an often-forgotten cause,” the story says. “‘These are intelligent people who knew what they were doing,’ said Tenzin Choekyi of the Tibetan Youth Congress, a prominent Dharmsala, India-based activist group. ‘What is the ultimate thing you can offer? It’s your life.'”
The story says more than two dozen Tibetans have burned themselves to death since early 2011 in protest of Chinese rule. They include Buddhist monks and nuns.
Some people who go so far would be surprised to know how much happened as a result. Recall that the Arab Spring protests can be traced back to the suicide of a frustrated fruit vendor in Tunisia.