TAIPEI - A 37-year-old man set himself on fire yesterday afternoon outside the Presidential Office in Taipei, suffering severe burns before the fire was extinguished by security forces nearby; authorities later ruled out a political motive to the self-immolation.
The man, surnamed Huang, approached the Presidential Office from the corner of Chongqing South Road and Ketagalan Boulevard after first dousing himself in gasoline at the 228 Peace Memorial Park. As he arrived near the building, Huang flashed a knife and warned military police on guard duty not to approach him. Huang then proceeded to light himself on fire.
Authorities used fire extinguishers and water to put out the flames, with firefighters dispatching Huang to National Taiwan (NTU) University Hospital for emergency treatment. Images broadcast on local media showed that his clothes had been burned black.
Huang, though conscious, suffered second-degree burns to roughly 80 per cent of his body, arriving at NTU Hospital at 4:58 p.m. As of press time, he was still in critical condition and is in the hospital's intensive care unit with severe burns and swelling near his throat. His injuries are deemed life-threatening
Huang Reportedly Has a History of Mental Illness.
According to officials, Huang approached the Presidential Office to express his views on both April 27 and May 4. An official from the Taipei City Police Department's Zhongzheng First Precinct said that they had discovered Huang's mental illness after driving him and his mother home on the evening of April 27 after they had approached the Presidential Office.
Officials at the Presidential Office revealed that because Huang had previously expressed suicidal intent, the office had twice referred the case to the New Taipei District Court for immediate attention.
Huang and his mother, surnamed Chen, were involved in a courtroom battle against Chen's friend that resulted in a countersuit in which the New Taipei District Court ruled in favour of non-prosecutorial disposition. Huang's actions yesterday are believed to be in connection with the ruling, which he claimed to be evidence of an unfair judicial system.
The Presidential Office later expressed regret after the incident and appealed to the public to use rational means to present appeals and complaints.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please seek help and call the 24-hour suicide prevention hotline at: 0800-788-995, or the Life Line at: 1995.