Acts such as the self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, in Saigon in 1963 (pictured on the album cover on the left) can be seen as altruistic suicide. The act was a protest against the government’s repression of the Buddhist religion. The photograph drew international attention and persuaded US President John F. Kennedy to withdraw support for Ngô Đình Diệm’s government.
A similar act is seen as sparking the “Arab Spring,” in Tunisia in early 2011, as described in this clip, “Suicide that Sparked a Revolution.” Since the global financial crisis of 2008, there have been numerous attempts of public self-immolation in Greece and Spain, which have been suffering through extreme “structural adjustment” and austerity. According to a recent headline, “Suicide by self-immolation a rising trend in France.” Visually, what’s common among these public spectacles is the (usually red) fuel container, which appears in this 2011 music video from rapper, Kendrick Lamar — “HiiiPOWER”:
WARNING: The video contains language that may be offensive to some. Unfortunately, all the “clean” versions I could find online weren’t actually clean. I’ve added it here to show how trends in suicide might be linked to social conditions, which can even be global (supporting the thrust of Durkheim’s work on suicide). As you watch it, look and listen for relevant sociological insights!
You may post on Durkheim’s Suicide until Monday (2/25).