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Suicide as social protest

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Suicide as a form of defiance and protestEdit

Thich Quang Duc - Self Immolation

The self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức.

Heroic suicide, for the greater good of others, is often celebrated. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi went on a hunger strike to prevent fighting between Hindus and Muslims, and, although he was stopped before dying, it appeared he would have willingly succumbed to starvation. This attracted attention to Gandhi's cause, and generated a great deal of respect for him as a spiritual leader. In the 1960s, Buddhist monks, most notably Thích Quảng Đức, in South Vietnam drew Western attention to their protests against President Ngô Đình Diệm by burning themselves to death. Similar events were reported during the Cold War in eastern Europe, such as the death of Jan Palach following the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, or Romas Kalanta's self-immolation in the main street of Kaunas, Lithuania in 1972. More recently, (November 2006) an American anti-war activist, Malachi Ritscher committed suicide by self-immolation as a protest against the 2003 Iraq war. Critics may see such suicides as counter-productive, arguing that these people would probably achieve a comparable or greater result by spending the rest of their lives in active struggle. Suicide or attempted suicide as a means of effecting social or political change is related to martyrdom.


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Suicide
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