Illinois · Political

Self-immolation in protest of war in Iraq

November 3, 2006
Chicago, Illinois
Malachi Ritscher commits suicide by self-immolation to protest the war in Iraq

Ritscher, a musician, recording engineer, and human rights activist, had previously been arrested twice at anti-war protests before his suicide. During morning rush hour on November 3, Ritscher stood on the side of the Kennedy Expressway and lit himself on fire.

Part of the extensive explanation regarding his suicide included “My position is that I only get one death, I want it to be a good one. Wouldn’t it be better to stand for something or make a statement, rather than a fiery collision with some drunk driver? Are not smokers choosing death by lung cancer? Where is the dignity there? Are not the people who disregard the environment killing themselves and future generations?”

The media did not immediately report on Ritscher’s immolation, waiting almost a week to mention it. Chicago Sun-Times’ columnist Richard Roeper condemned the act, commenting “With all great respect, if he thought setting himself on fire and ending his life in Chicago would change anyone’s mind about the war in Iraq, his last gesture on this planet was his saddest and his most futile.”

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