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A 61-year-old former employee of the University of Washington died Thursday after dousing himself with gasoline and setting it afire in a crowded central plaza on the UW campus known as Red Square. The man was a former UW worker and because of the recent layoff of his UW job he had reached a boiling point within his life to which lead to this tragic event and ultimate reflection.



This article was taken from a Seattle blog shortly after by a first account witness -

Joji Kohjima is the UW student who, as the Seattle P-I reported on Thursday, attempted to prevent a man from setting himself on fire and also prayed over the victim immediately after the flames were extinguished. The man who died in the fire has not yet been identified. Here is Kohjima's description of the incident in his own words:

At 1:00, I was sitting with a friend in Red Square. I saw the old man dousing himself with gasoline from a big 10 gallon red can. I knew what I was seeing immediately because I am a Buddhist and I know the history of self-immolation, but it took me some moments to react. I started running towards him screaming at him to stop. When I got within the very center of Red Square, between the benches, I was paying attention to his arms, seeing if he had a lighter or matches ready. He finished pouring the gasoline on himself, cast aside the canister and wiped his face. He looked at me but didn't say anything, and my initial reading of the situation was confirmed by the smell of gasoline and the mortal determination on his face. When I got close to him, I slipped on the gasoline that was covering the bricks. I never touched him, but it occurred to me that if it went up then there was gasoline on my clothes. I got up as fast as I could but I slipped for a moment and my shoes wouldn't grab the bricks, as if I was on an oil slick. I decided to run away and as soon as I was out of the area he lit himself. I think he didn't want to harm anybody else in the act, because he sized me up very intently as I came towards him.

After I got away, I took off my gasoline-soaked clothes and sat in shock for some fraction of a minute. People began to smother the fire, and I ran into Odegaard library asking for a fire extinguisher. A librarian there gave it to me and I ran out but I wasn't able to use it. The flames were almost out within seconds. I saw his blackened body and heard him asking for help, in so much pain. I prostrated myself and began to pray loudly so that he could hear me and know that people understood what he was doing. At that point a young man, I believe it was the young military man you interviewed in your article, and several others told me that I had to stop because it was scaring people to see me half-naked, chanting.

I finished praying and then a policewoman rounded up all the witnesses. She said she wanted to talk to me first and I told her what had happened. As I was telling her my story, a policeman put his hand on my back and started leading me away, saying that he needed to talk to me. He was obviously very suspicious of me. The policewoman and others told him that I had tried to help the man, and he said "that's not what I heard." He was grabbing me so I bowed down and he began to take my hands to cuff them. Then the policewoman stopped him and asked him to let her finish interviewing me. The woman told me she understood I was confused, and I pointed to the policeman and said, "no, he is confused, so I'm not going to talk to him." I finished telling my story to the woman and then waited with my friend where she told me to. A detective approached us and said he wanted to interview us separately so that he did not get our stories confused. I told him I wanted to go get my pants from my locker at Odegaard library, and while I was gone he interviewed my friend. Then I found that there were no pants in my locker, and I went to a used clothing store on the Ave. to buy some pants. Red Square had been cordoned off at that point.

That's all I have to say.

Thankyou,
Joji Kohjima




This event WAS reality, people. This is really sad! This is also completely sad because it is a troubled soul that couldn't be heard or failed to let others hear his inner and most desperate thoughts! This IS extreme,, but ending ones life in any form is also. A man passed without ever allowing anyone to reach him.

We are in very troubled and seemingly dismal times, my friends, and some of us are overwhelmed beyond reproach like no other time in history. But keep in mind, "This to shall pass!" and if you have pressures on you and need to "TALK" to someone,, please DO NOT think for a moment that there isn't help and care out there! You just have to NOT be silent and live within yourself,, reach out and others WILL help and touch you to get you through whatever tough time you are going through !!! If nothing else, if this is you,, even if you just lurk here and don't post,,,, please drop ME a line and I will give you my personal email/phone number so that you DO HAVE someone to talk to,, someone to encourage or to help find refuge and solace for you.

REACH OUT !!! THERE IS,,, AND ALWAYS WILL BE,,, HOPE !!!
 

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May his soul rest in peace.
 

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the more the freedom the greater the depression.
 
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