A self-explanatory term for suicide by fire:
• As a political protest against a status quo or injustice.
The best-known such event was that by Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk (picture), who was protesting the anti-Buddhist/pro-Catholic policies of Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam’s corrupt first president. Duc’s protest on 11 June 1963 on a busy street in Siagon, was captured on film by Malcolm Brown. The ensuing international outcry led to Diem’s assassination on 2 November 1963.
• As an act of desperation
Self immolation was reported as a growing trend (in 2008) among women aged 10-40 as a means of fleeing lives of hopelessness and despair. Many Afghan women, especially in rural villages, live in a state of near slavery. They are kept uneducated and have little control over the most basic aspects of their lives. Accurate estimates of the number of cases of self-immolation is impossible, because their families try to hide the incident or lie about the method of death. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission recorded 40 cases in a 6-month period in Herat alone (Herat has a population of 400,000; Afghanistan has a population of 30 million), which means that the number is likely to be much higher.