BREAKING: Burner Dies at Utah Regional [Updates]

Burners who attended Element11, the Utah Regional burn, this weekend witnessed a terrible tragedy. A man committed suicide very publicly, by running into the fire as they burned their effigy under the Full Moon.

photo credit: Fox13

Sparky, the Element11 effigy, based on Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. photo credit: Fox13 News, Salt Lake City

The fire, 1 minute prior to the tragedy. photo credit: Rissa Clayton

The fire, 1 minute prior to the tragedy. 

Official statement from Utah Burners:

On behalf of Element 11 – our official statement: We acknowledge there was indeed a fatality last night at Element 11 (Utah’s regional). This is a deeply upsetting event with tragic results. Our hearts go out to the Utah community and to the attendees of Element 11. This is a tragic event, and we struggle to respond to it. We ask for your patience while we find the appropriate resources, but please know that we are committed to supporting those affected by this event in the best way we can

There has been an outpouring of grief and sympathy on Facebook from the Burner community. Our thoughts and prayers go to all of the 1200-strong crowd who had to suffer from this tragedy, and particularly those Burners who had to witness the horrific event.

Burner Chris: its real, and it happened. i saw it and it was horrifying. Love and light goes out to everyone affected. Sad day….The perimeter was in place. the fire got large and hot enough that everyone moved back. in the scramble he was able to get through the perimeter…it did continue, as much as it could. there was silence so quiet afterwards nobody spoke over a whisper… [the event continued] remaining effigy’s were not allowed to burn. people were comforting each other best they could.

Burner Rissa: I watched this entire tragic event as it happened. He full on ran and jumped into the fire. Several ppl were running after him trying to stop him. But unfortunately they were not quick enough. It was pretty devastating to watch. My heart goes out to his family for the loss. The whole thing is stuck in my mind. I couldn’t ever imagine being a place in the mind that his actions were the resolution…I still can’t believe that I watched the whole thing. The images of his hand reaching up through the flames will stick with me for a long time. I still am having a hard time believing that this was real…

Burner Michael: This was my first visit to E11, and to Bonnevlle Seabase, a beautiful location for a lovely joyful event. I was resting my legs on a trailer at about 9o’clock as Sparky burned, the leaves and twigs had flashed off in to sparks and the fire was intense through all the heavy, repurposed lumber of the structure. The upper elements had mostly fallen, focussing my attention up high , then I saw the man running in from the right, Rangers running towards him; I thought first he had run round the far side, but it was immediately apparent that he had run straight in.

Burner H: In the midst of tragedy, we held hands as emergency vehicles arrived and helped one another cope with fear and loss of innocent revelry. While “what next” has yet to be determined, I am very touched by the commitment and rapid response that leadership, volunteers, and others provided to support a sense of community encountering and transcending crisis…I was glad to help as a first responder at the perimeter for people in shock, then as a crisis worker at Center Camp. There was a lot of healing in our community, but so much hurt. I am here for people in need.

photo credit: Hallie Robbins


Burner Erik: This event was 18 and up only. The image of his hand reaching up will be with me for the rest of my life. Witnessing this will forever change how i view the frailty of life. The event paused for a hour or so after this occurred before slowly continuing on. I personally dedicated my entire 3 hour dj set to all of my fellow burners there and to the camp that is returning home with one less brother to call upon.

Burner Grant: As I rushed around the playa last night trying to find and check in with all my people, I had two dozen strangers stop me, hug me, and make sure I was okay. Thank you, all. This is a beautiful community and I love it more than ever.

Burner Victoria: A man ran and Dove into the effigy.. Right after it was lit up.. In front of the whole burn… 

Burner Brandi: He was calm and peaceful when he did it. Most likely under the influence. We are a little traumatized right now

Burner Brittan: People tried to stop him… It happened fast

Burner Darren: everyone has remained calm. the event staff are doing an excellent job for the situation

element11 response

Burner Sweeney: I have so far spoken to two friends who were Rangering perimeter. Frankly nothing would make me retract the word unfairly in relation to the fact that this happened on their watch, I think this act was desperately unfair on those who give up so much and work so hard to keep us all safe. Much love to all who held space that night.

Burner Mehgun: I’m still shaking. It was so horrible.

Burner Nina: At flipside in Tx, Yes regional bm, they have sanctuary staffed with professional counselors, mental health pros and super easy to talk to people for anyone that feels they need it. 

element11 suicide long shot

This brings to mind two other very public Burner suicides, the body of Jermaine Barley that was found hanging (possibly for hours) at queer camp Comfort and Joy in 2007, and arsonist convicted felon/protestor Paul Addis jumping in front of a train in San Francisco in 2012.

Suicide is always a tragedy, and inflicts pain on everyone who knew the person. Something like this, though, is terribly scarring for all those who had to witness it. All three Burner suicides were public statements that inflicted the victim’s pain upon innocent witnesses who had done nothing to them.

The question needs to be asked: is there anything our community could have done to prevent this? Now, or in the future. Could the principle of radical inclusion somehow be a trigger: a person feels excluded so they think “I’ll show them”? This is certainly a twisted form of self expression, immediacy, and leave no trace. A trace is left in the hearts and souls of all the witnesses, and the family and friends of the victim.

National Suicide Prevention HotlineNo matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. 1-800-273-TALK

[Update 7/13/14 3:05pm]

We will continue to update this story as news comes in. Since the event got TV coverage on Fox News in Utah before the tragedy, we expect that there will be mainstream media coverage once the victim’s family have been notified.

Here is a comment from a witness who wishes to remain anonymous:

I am still reeling from what I witnessed last night. I’m sure everyone there felt the same way.
We were at Utah’s regional Burning Man event. The apex of such events is the burn of a very large fire. I remember my first time, 8 years ago at the same event, seeing the burn. I’d never seen a controlled flame like that. There was such power and majesty in it. Its effects on everyone were undeniable. There is something primal and unifying about a fire so large. Everyone is drawn to the heat and the light and their barriers come down. We feel instinctual, we feel human, we feel safe, we feel equal, we feel catharsis, and we feel joy. We are completely present in the moment and simultaneously understand the ephemeral nature of our lives. People drum, dance, hug, some even get naked and dance near the flames and feel the fire singe their skin.
This year’s effigy was beautiful. The inner frame was made of 2x4s and the outer layers were made from branches. There was a perimeter clearly marked and everyone sat outside the perimeter. The firefighters stood at the ready while the effigy became a very tall, very beautiful fire. We all celebrated.
And then someone ran toward the flame. Danced toward the flame was more accurate. We watched him get close, far too close. Halfway between the perimeter line and the fire. There are usually hippies that do something like this. They get closer than the rest of us and walk out with sunburns. He paused a bit and just danced in place, swinging his arms like a windmill and kicking his feet behind him. The firefighters moved in (I’m imagining they just wanted to be able to pull him out of there in case he collapsed from the heat.) And then the man just danced further toward the fire. Firefighters started to follow but before they could get to him, the man danced up to the edge and then just calmly jumped in. Just laid down in the fire and then disappeared into the flames. The firefighters tried to move in but the blaze was too big. They doused out the fire as we all watched in horror.
Since then, I can’t get the image out of my mind of this man just spinning his arms and kicking his feet and jogging into the fire. He didn’t shield his face. He didn’t hunker down like he was preparing for pain. He didn’t run fast. He calmly and deliberately danced and laid down in the fire. I never saw him struggle.
There were 1,200 people at the event and every single one of them was watching as this happened.
I don’t think this has ever happened in the history of burning man. (I’ve been looking.) My mind won’t stop going in circles. Why did he do it? Who was he? What was he thinking? I can’t imagine any of these answers and I don’t think I’ll ever have them.
My immediate desire was to go home to my children and hold them safe.
I feel tremendous emotion that I can’t identify. Confusion, sadness, fear. I mostly just don’t understand why.
My love to all those affected by this tragedy.

In 2001, someone did deliberately run into a fire in Deep Playa, and died later of his burns in the Reno hospital. In 2005, Anthony Beninati from Los Angeles accidentally fell in the fire, and then sued BMOrg. He lost his appeal.

[Update 7/13/14 10:57pm] Burner Frosty was a witness, and did not see it go down exactly the way the Anonymous commenter described it above. He says in the comments to our article:

CORRECTION: the “anonymous witness” in the article above is quoted as saying “the man just danced further toward the fire. Firefighters started to follow but before they could get to him, the man danced up to the edge and then just calmly jumped in. Just laid down in the fire and then disappeared into the flames.”

NO – nothing could be farther from what happen.

when i first saw this person, they were running wildly across the playa: whether to escape the rangers or dancing i do not know. very quickly, he then raced towards the fire. about 10-15 feet away, he suddenly stopped (from the heat?), then just as quickly took a step backwards for momentum, and then they launched themselves full tilt into the fire, running as fast as he could the last 10-15 feet, jumping high with the last step, and hurling themselves into the flames while curling his arms around his body as he sailed into the air. he landed right into a corner and then simply lay there where he landed, ablaze, until about 30 seconds later the charred corpse suddenly jerked its arms; the animal within releasing its death throe.

why is this important?!!

because it would be very wrong, sad and unfair to think that the rangers and firefighters ensuring security would simply let someone “calmly walk into the fire”.

There was nothing “calm” about what happened. it was a violent act. the person who took their own life did so in a violent way, leaping with force into flames.

it was also a violent act thrust upon 1200 unsuspecting spectators, myself included, who have spent all night and all day trying to forget the horror played out for them.

It’s clear that this person was deliberate in what they did, and the fire safety volunteers did the right thing so that no more lives were endangered.

[Update 7/13/14 4:34pm]

Fox13 News in Salt Lake City has a video story from the event. They will have an interview with an eyewitness in an update later tonight.

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah — Event organizers of Element 11, a festival referred to by many as Utah’s version of Burning Man, released a statement Sunday after a man died in what appears to be a suicide by jumping into a large fire surrounded by hundreds of festival-goers.

Sunday is the final day of the festival, and the incident occurred Saturday around 11 p.m. when a three-story structure representing a character from the book “Where the Wild Things Are” was being burned.

Festival officials said as the art project was being burned (burning the art is an integral part of the festivities) a man suddenly rushed past security and jumped into the fire. Officials said there were between 25 and 40 volunteers forming a perimeter around the fire to prevent people from getting too close. Those nearby attempted to shout at the man and even chase him, but they were unable to prevent him from jumping.

Officials said that once the man was in the fire there was nothing they could do, as they said attempting to intervene could have led to more deaths.

Safety coordinator J.P. Bernier spoke about the incident and the impact it will have on their procedures going forward.

“The people that form that perimeter, it’s not a hand-in-hand circle around: There is space between these people so it will definitely have an impact about how we treat that perimeter in the future for sure,” he said. “But I’m not going to place any blame on our community members or our volunteers. Everybody was in the right place at the right time. This guy was really motivated. He was fast, he didn’t respond to commands to stop, he clearly had an objective.”

Element 11 officials delivered a verbal statement Sunday to FOX 13 News’ Robert Boyd regarding the incident, which is available below.

“This is a deeply upsetting event with tragic results, our hearts go out to the Utah community and the attendees of Element 11. This is a tragic event and we struggle to respond to it we ask for your patience while we find the appropriate resources but please know we are committed to supporting those who are affected by this event in the best way we can.”

Police officials said they are working to identify the victim and notify his family.

The event is held in Bonneville Seabase near Grantsville and spans several days. It features art projects created during the year, which participants then burn at the end of the festival.

Editor’s note: As a rule FOX 13 News does not cover deaths that appear to be a suicide unless the action has a wider impact on the community–as in cases like this that unfold in such a public manner.

[Update 7/13/14 7:48pm]

The story has been covered by the Deseret News:

GRANTSVILLE — One man died Saturday night after witnesses say he ran into a ceremonial bonfire at a regional burning festival Saturday night.

The annual event, put on by Element 11, is a spinoff of the Burning Man festival held in Black Rock City, Nevada. As part of the event, several effigies about 30 feet tall are constructed out of dry wood and ceremoniously burned, according to Element 11 spokesman J.P. Bernier.

Because the burning produces extreme heat, volunteers form a perimeter around the burning for the safety of other participants, Bernier said.

After 11 p.m., volunteers noticed a man who came running forward through the crowd and went past the perimeter. Volunteers made attempts to call out and stop the man, but they were unsuccessful in preventing him from jumping into the fire, Bernier said.

“The nature of the fire is such that our volunteers were not able to get close enough to the fire for risk of their own safety,” Bernier said. “He was very fast; he was very motivated. It wasn’t an accident or any act of negligence on anybody’s part. He had a very deliberate objective to get past our volunteers, past our safety perimeter.”

The victim’s name was not released Sunday. Grantsville police issued a very brief statement only saying that they were investigating “a fatality at an event being held within Grantsville City.”

Many participants were distraught and confused by the suddenness of the incident, according to a participant and a documentary photographer named Christian, who declined to provide his last name.

“I did see that a lot of the community was shocked and traumatized,” he said. “There’s a lot of questions, a lot of facts that are unknown.”

Doug Johnson said the incident was the first of its kind that he’s seen after attending the event for more than a dozen years.

“I was blown away,” Johnson said. “Fifteen years and I’ve never had anything like that happen, ever.”

More than 100 volunteers help facilitate the regional event, which is intended to “ignite a culture of creativity in the community,” Bernier said. The event hosted more than 1,200 attendees, and members of the volunteer Grantsville Fire Department were present.

A burning scheduled for Sunday morning was canceled after Saturday’s incident.

Christian said safety has been an ever-growing priority at the event over the five years he’s been attending.

“This is the first event that I was restricted as a documentary photographer to ever get near anything there because safety was such a concern,” he said. “And the fact that he had to break through that barrier anyway, I would just say that it was not something that was easily prevented at all.”

Bernier said that while safety procedures were followed, policies will be examined in the hope that such incidents will be prevented in the future.

“We’ll definitely look at our policies,” Bernier said

[Update 7/13/14 8:09pm] Fox13 in Utah have updated their story with a new video, including a couple of witness statements:

Witnesses at the festival said the death is something they never could have imagined. Some of them are even taking it personally.

“There were people crying and some were just kind of in shock,” said a festival-goer who only calls himself Spice. “There were a couple of fellows that were running to stop him and missed him and some of them couldn’t go toward the fire because it was too intense and they are taking that pretty hard.”

Del Hargis said everyone who participates in this event is part of a family, and this weekend they are grieving like a family.

“I was instantly moved,” he said. “So much so my friends around me started saying ‘Del must have known him, what was his name Del?’ and I personally could hardly breathe at the time and I said, ‘one of us, he is one of us.’”

Element 11 does say the man was not alone. He was surrounded by people who cared.

“He was camped here with people who did know him and loved him and welcomed him into their camp and into their group,” Bernier said.

The event is held in Bonneville Seabase near Grantsville and spans several days. It features art projects created during the year, which participants then burn at the end of the festival.

[Update 7/13/14 9:15pm] The story was covered by the Daily Mail in the UK.

Still no official comment from Burning Man.

[Update 7/13/14 9:38pm] The suicide is getting some coverage on Reddit. It didn’t take long for the story to somehow get twisted into hating on us:

Whoever writes is a shitty fucking person. These poor people have had no time to get ahead of this horrible event. They’re running on no sleep, their burn is STILL happening and they have an entire burn to break down between today and tomorrow. They’re being hounded by media too. Where’s the compassion at?

Where’s your compassion at? There’s no sensationalism here, and certainly no accusations of blame. We’re just trying to gather whatever information we can about what happened from public statements online. I don’t see anyone else doing that, and I hardly expect BMOrg are going to. There are rumors on Facebook, that we’ve chosen not to publish here.

Art1san the hater is concerned about legal liability, and the effect on their own event. They love that Fox News covered the story, which included interviewing witnesses. For some reason, though, we’re terrible for sharing public comments that others have made on the Internet.

I’ve actually been live streaming the news coverage. Your outlet, [Fox 13] so far, has been really kind. Seeing that is awesome and I commend your team on that.

…Speaking as someone involved very heavily in the lead structure of a regional burn (I don’t want to name it because reasons) I can tell you we have been scrambling to try and get ahead of this with our underwriters. The ripple affects of this will be far reaching. One thing that’s terrible is JP Burnier and the words he’s saying. The org/staff of E11 need to CEASE right now, contact their attorneys and get legal advise. They need to contact BM contacts to help walk them through managing this crisis, if they haven’t already. E11 is opening itself up to legal pursuit by making statements that go in print. It’s really terrible to see, and I hope E11 makes it through this, it would be sad to see a 13 year burn vanish because of one persons actions.

…The thing is, even though the volunteers aren’t at fault, the org for the burn may be held liable. They’ve got a fire safety staff member saying on print that there were holes in their perimeter, which is a basic admission of fault. The PR isn’t being handled well on this at all, unfortunately.

Who’s hounding whom? I didn’t get that from Element11’s statements at all. Everyone has said that to pursue the victim any further would have endangered the lives of the fire safety volunteers. I’m sure there are 1200 witnesses who would swear to the same thing. Maybe Art1san should quit dumping on JP Bernier and the rest of the Element11 crew, and give them a break – and stop putting ideas of lawsuits into people’s heads. You brought it up dude, not us.

Some other comments from Reddit:

Burner travel64 said: I was there and it was fucked up. The fire was so intense that once he crossed a certain point it would be impossible to tackle him or hold him back. I was around 90 yards from the flames and they were so incredibly hot. Magnesium was used in the burn which can reach temperatures of 5000f, to give you an idea of how hot it was. The volunteers and fire fighters did absolutely nothing wrong and there was nothing they could do without endangering their own lives. No one was expecting this to happen so by the time they reacted it was already too late. I pray that this story is not twisted to make those noble volunteers look at faultThis is a very tight community where everyone are friends and pride themselves on being helpful and thoughtful towards others.

Burner Buttfartmcpoopus said: I was there as well. Luckily I didn’t actually see him, only the commotion surrounding it when people tried to go after him. It was still very surreal and difficult to stand helplessly and watch a fire that I knew someone was inside of, dying and burning away in front of 1,200 people. What a heavy, complicated night. Nobody is to blame for this. Everyone did everything they could. This man clearly made a decision that he wasn’t going to let anyone intervene on. So far the news outlets have been respectful, which I am grateful for

Wordofgreen, from Fox13, in response to the question “anyone know if drugs were involved?”: We haven’t heard anything, that I’m aware of here in the newsroom, that would indicate that is the case.

188 comments on “BREAKING: Burner Dies at Utah Regional [Updates]

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  5. Determined to Die

    After some internal debate, I decided to post a few words about this past weekend’s Element 11 – the regional Burning Man event held at Sea Base, near Grantsville, Utah. I’m doing so both as a cathartic exercise and in the hope that by jotting something down, I can avoid recounting the story more than necessary when someone asks me innocently and with friendly interest: “So, how was that Burning Man thingy you went to this weekend?”

    Well, it was awesome . . .

    . . . until a man committed suicide in front of us all by hurling himself into our raging bonfire, with its flames 50-60 feet tall and an estimated temperature of some 2,000 degrees. The guy had breached the safety perimeter about 60 feet from the flames and ran and danced to the fire’s edge, where he turned his back to the fire, his face to the crowd and then – without hesitation – launched himself backwards into the inferno. He landed in the flames in a recumbent position, almost as if sitting back in a Lazy-Boy recliner, and he’d managed to jump far enough into the blaze that no part of him extended beyond the fire’s edge.

    Although entirely engulfed in the flames, his body was still clearly visible. His arms were bent at the elbows, with hands upwards, forming something of a “W.” His legs were in a similar position with knees bent and feet slightly outwards, and his head appeared to be looking out on us.

    For the most part he remained still, as if he’d been instantly petrified where he landed. Yet every once-in-a-while, his arms and legs would suddenly move inwards and then return back out to their original position; his head would crane slightly on his neck. He was dead, but while watching these jerky and sporadic movements, one couldn’t help but ponder whether there was some life-force still in there, not quite extinguished and issuing commands for that body to do whatever it could to rise, to walk out of that blaze. To live.

    But Christopher Wallace had been determined to die.

    And to do so publicly, violently, grotesquely.

    In the minutes and hours after watching this person burn alive, I came to imagine that perhaps to the warped mind of a Christopher Wallace, who was committed to killing himself, that he may have perceived his ultimate act to be some kind of work of art: Around an effigy some 30 feet high, fire-dancers perform as drummers bang out rhythms into a night lit up by a nearly-full moon. Then the effigy is set ablaze, and people whoop and holler . . . all an elaborate prelude to the snuffing of a human life.

    Regardless of what he thought, what he did hurt and even traumatized a lot of people. And in addition to subjecting people to the spectacle of a human being burning to death, Christopher Wallace hijacked a community and injected a wary skepticism into the very idea of creating something larger than the sum of its parts.

    In our everyday existence, we’re each the main character in the movie of our own life. Yet the people at Element 11, while being individually expressive and creative, had, in essence, implicitly agreed to suspend their status as “main character” in order temporarily create something bigger than themselves. All of us do this in other contexts – as employees at a company, as citizens of a nation, or as members of a religion – and we do so because it allows us to accomplish and experience things that would not be possible if attempted solo.

    And although Element 11 was in the midst of harnessing the power of community and cooperation to provide an experience that none could have achieved on his or her own, Christopher Wallace co-opted the entire show. He foisted his “main character” status onto the scene, and transmogrified Element 11 into a mere prop to his own ego and his end.

    By the time fire-fighters had extinguished the flames that consumed Wallace, his final act had hit message boards across the country. It was cast on the news and, when his name was released the next day, you could read of his suicide on the BBC, and Burning Man devotees in other countries knew of his deed: Christopher Wallace was determined to die, but in so doing, he gained a perverse immortality that will live on in any Google search and in the horrific images and memories seared into the minds of those who watched him go.

    So watch out, Christopher Wallace, because irony exists and it will get you.

  6. My heart goes out to his family and especially to all of the burners who had to witness such a horrific thing whilst attending such a fun loving gathering. I lost my dear husband to suicide, and I witnessed the act. Love and support ♥♥♥

  7. As an east coast burner my heart goes out to everyone affected by this. A very dark day for us as a community. Nothing anyone says will alter what has already happened but let us all respect a human being whos energy is no longer blessing this earth. Out of respect for the dead we shouldn’t speculate or judge lets just mourn for a lost brother. My heart goes out to his family and friends, I have never met this man but he is family and my heart aches that I will never have the pleasure of meeting him.

  8. During the Element 11 effigy burn in 2013, I took a voyage. As the fire dancers took the stage a strange impulse overwhelmed me. The thought struck my mind like a bolt of lightning. For this beautiful event to continue to exist I must be sacrificed. At first, I was terrified. I thought the whole event was building up to my sacrifice. I quickly thought about how much love, beauty, and joy this event has given me over the years. I realized how much I love all of you. I accepted that I would sacrifice myself and that my spark of life would ignite the flame of love that is this festival. I came to this conclusion only moments after the thought had struck me. I was certain of it, and was completely willing and accepting of my fate. I turned to my wife who was playing the role of mamma bird for me and my companions that night. I said “So this is how it ends?” At that moment I was waiting for the fire dancers to throw a flaming spear across the playa and into my heart. She turned to me and saw the look on my face. Sincere. Honest. Afraid. But willing. She was immediately concerned just by the emotions on my face and in my voice. At first she was confused as to what I was talking about. After delving deeper she realized that I thought I had to die. She walked me away from the fire and began to try to reconnect me to this plane of existence. She told me that I didn’t have to die. That everyone loves me and that there is no need to express my love through that kind of sacrifice. I was gone for about 3 hours. Every experience tied back into that first initial impulse. I felt like the crowd hated me and was yelling at me for not sacrificing myself. My momma bird kept telling me everything was OK and that I didn’t have to be sacrificed for anyone. And I trusted her. She held my hand the entire time. Eventually, I was able to work through the journey and reconnect those thoughts and feelings with this reality.
    I don’t know if Chris was on a similar journey or if he planned to end his life in this devastating way. I just thought that sharing my experience may help others cope with what they witnessed, and to learn. If you’re going to delve into the depths of your psyche, remember to bring your momma bird. Such voyages should always have a solid footing in reality. We must watch out and care for each other.

  9. I felt elevated to a state of wonder and awe by the mesmerizing, tightly choreographed pre-burn dancing, fire spinning, and drumming. The majesty and transcendence of that moment reached new heights when Sparky was lit up under the full moon, engulfed in a towering inferno, radiating a powerful heat and light that presaged a new day and bringing a new intense warmth to the desert night. For a minute or two I stood directly in front of Sparky a few feet outside the perimeter, basking in the glow, soaking in the experience, as the crowd retreated from the increasingly uncomfortable heat. I walked clockwise along the perimeter, returning toward the place I had parted from my campmates before the display began. Not quite a quarter of the way around the perimeter I encountered him sitting on the perimeter in a meditation pose, dressed only in boxer shorts, back to the inferno, eyes wide open. He glanced up at me as I approached. We had met and conversed a couple of times in the preceding days so he recognized me. Those conversations had been brief, but there was clearly a fondness between us, as we had hugged and expressed interest in meeting and talking more. I’m pretty sure that we had briefly met two years earlier also, at a barbecue my brother had invited me to in Salt Lake City.
    I don’t feel complete confidence in my memory of the next few minutes. There are some things I am positive about and some things that may have happened, but were possibly made up in the ensuing emotional turmoil. He was sitting in mediation pose on the perimeter and glanced up at me. I called his name and greeted him. I’m not sure exactly what he said but I think he responded with my name and told me he had been looking for me. We chatted about how moving the performance had been, about how inspiring the whole experience was. “Yeah, the drums. The music…” he said. There was a brief pause. Still sitting, again he looked up at me, with a wild, distant, glint in his eyes, and said, “Well… Where do we go now?” I didn’t know what he meant or how to respond. I stood for a second and then took my shirt off, extended my arms out above my head, facing the blaze, and maybe said I’d join him in enjoying the warmth and energy of the burn.
    That’s when he stood up. Without a word and without pausing he danced across the perimeter. I was stupefied. I can’t remember if I said anything. The heat was already overwhelming a few feet outside the perimeter where I stood transfixed in astonishment, unable to react. My first assumption was that he was just being a jackass, would soon buckle under the intense heat, and come running back. Time stretched out. Videos that I saw after the fact show his final dance playing out in far less time than it felt like in the moment. I maybe started screaming “No! What are you doing!? COME BACK!” By then my voice would have been one among hundreds. It was already too late.

    • I’ve been following this story since it happened as my boyfriend was supposed to go. I’m surprised no one has responded to your comment. Are you okay?? I can’t imagine the damage seeing the event but being the last to speak to him, I have no words to describe this. I truly hope you are okay. Please dearly reach out for help if you need it. Much love <3

  10. Suicide is fucked up, sure. So is clinical depression. That shit is real, and it makes good people who are loved (and who love others) think about things like killing themselves. It seems plausible that some people kill themselves for selfish or symbolic reasons, though the idea that they would do that from a place of mental and emotional health seems tough to swallow. Guessing about this man’s motivations helps nobody.

    • drugs are fucked up. try a few of these events 100% sober and see how much fun it is. Or start a theme camp. or volunteer. or find something else more interesting to waste your time on. I love your playa name. hugs.

  11. Pingback: Please Consider Helping Chris Wallace’s Widow | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  12. I strongly believe it wasn’t him wanting suicide due to the video I just watched… It had to be drugs that took him to the point of being psychotic. It was probably unaware accidental suicide. I don’t care how suicidal consciously you can be, you can’t run into a fire like that; your mind/body won’t allow it. Anyway the reason I say this is because I urge everyone, that whatever you think you can handle… please go half that, at least. Please be safe, no need to hurt people due to poor judgement on what and how much you take of “insert drug here”.

    • I’m not to sure about ” It was probably unaware accidental suicide.” Your reasoning is flawed doc. “Your mind/body won’t allow it”. Yeah, ok. I guess someone threw him in. Also, the H/K’s dumping gasoline on themselves and lighting up to protest the Vietnam war. What’s you reasoning for that. They didn’t have drugs in them.

      • Having survived actually being ON Fire I can say the doctor is right. Lighting a match, jumping off a bridge…completly different than facing the heat of an inferno and charge in, your body will not let you do that. I’m going with a “spirit molecule” drug, either DMT combined with something, mushrooms or mescaline. These drugs are done in ceremony with a guide for a reason. Sometimes, tickling your spirit through alteration makes the spirit want to cross over.

    • I have seen people at these events that get super high and think they can do anything. Have seen many burn victims but nothing that killed anyone until now.

      Sad but true. Mind your drugs people. PLUR and all that shit.

      Burning Man sucks, don’t go. And if you must go please don’t die. That is all.

  13. Pingback: Shocking Video: Fire Suicide at Utah Regional Burn | CrashCade

  14. After reading many comments here, I feel that I have to speak up. There are many misconceptions about what it means to be suicidal.

    Many people who are suicidal care very deeply for and about others. The problem is that they see themselves as burdening those others. They think that they bring nothing but misery and trouble to others’ lives. They think that the best possible thing they can do is to permanently remove themselves from the lives of those they care about, and that their loved ones will rejoice at their death.

    I know this because I’ve been there. It is a dark, and terrible place, a mental prison wherein the wardens inflict constant pain and whisper terrible lies. I pray that none of you ever have to experience it.

    I do not know what was going through this man’s mind when he did what he did. But on the off-chance that he was the type of suicidal that I was, then I would ask those who think he “inflicted” this tragedy upon them to consider that he might have been thinking he was doing the opposite. He might have been thinking that he was doing everyone around him a favor by eliminating himself. It doesn’t make it okay, and it doesn’t lessen the trauma of those who witnessed the act. But it may not have been selfish in the way that people think it was. And he may have been in a great amount of pain for a very, very long time.

  15. The man running into the fire was from my camp, his name was Chris, and had apparently been acting strangely all day. (I only tell you his name because the authorities have already released it, and is more or less common knowledge at this point.)
    I did not know Chris personally, though I know people who did. He was very kind, and had attended this event for about 15 or 20 years in a row.
    I was literally 15 feet from him when he ran in. I had gotten close to the safety ring to take a selfie with the fire behind me, and it turns out he was in the background, getting ready for his final run. He took off about 10 or 15 seconds after I took my picture. It was just after 11:08 pm.
    I have been beating myself up for not chasing after him faster, but I’m honestly rather glad someone posted the video of the event, cause it showed me how quickly he sprinted the last 40 or so feet. And seeing myself run after him demonstrated how utterly impossible it would have been for anyone to save him.

    There were no volunteers near him. Nobody was close enough to even tackle him if they wanted. I myself didn’t fully grasp what was happening until he began his final sprint. Everyone I talked to who saw it thought that he was just wanting to dance extremely close to the effigy, however a dumb decision that was. No one fully grasped the extreme urgency of the situation until too late.

    This is a memory that will be scarred into my mind for a long time. I really hope next year’s burn isn’t cancelled, but that there will be more safety measures in place. Obviously nobody expected this, and hindsight is 20/20. Perhaps an actual fence should be constructed around the perimeter or something. Or we should have far more volunteers around the fire to immediately stop anyone who crosses the safety line. I would definitely like to be one of those volunteers. I don’t ever want anyone to experience this type of needless horror show ever again.

    I have seen pictures of him in the fire, and the only solace I can take from this tragedy is that he looked very peaceful in the flames. He did not scream, and sat as if he was in a recliner, holding his arms up in a Praising-type pose the entire time. And he did not suffer long, from the looks of it, he died less than 2 minutes after entering. I heard the fire had reached over 2,000 degrees before he leaped in, which would have almost immediately made him unconscious after one or two breaths.

    I hope this isn’t too much detail, but for some reason, knowing the details has helped me cope quite a lot. And my heart goes out to all my friends who knew him better, and to his family. I cannot imagine the suffering you’re going through.

    I hope we all learn some sort of lesson from what happened, and take steps to ensure it never happens again, while still continuing what has always been, prior to this, an extremely positive ceremony and festival.

    • My body is over 1/3 3rd degree burn scars from an accident at 12. I can tell you first hand: being on fire didn’t hurt, putting it out did. I could have easily just let it consume me.

  16. If someone is so determined to kill themselves, that they’re willing to run headlong into a bonfire, then there’s really nothing any reasonable person can do to prevent such an outcome.

  17. Whoever said the gig organizers need to stop talking and get some legal advice is right on it. Protect your people, protect your gig and protect your scene. Get a f*c*ing lawyer.

  18. If depression and loneliness was to blame for this man’s suicide, all these negative comments kind of justifies his actions. I could just see him in the after life being happy with his decision after reading comments by people who are calling him an asshole. Burners are supposed to be compassionate, but most of you have negative things to say about this man.
    There is a lesson to learn from this event.
    Take care of each other. If your friends, or even a stranger, seems down, give them a freaking minute of your time. SHOW PEOPLE YOU CARE, even the people in your life who seem to be doing alright. It’s not that hard to have compassion and NOT be an asshole.

    I went through some difficult times a few years ago. I can understand why someone would commit suicide at a burn. Perhaps he thought of the burn as a utopia and thought he’d find understanding people there, then felt neglected and out of place. This act in front of everyone would be a giant middle finger to all the assholes who didn’t care.
    I hope I never find myself in that dark place again. If I do, now I’ll think twice about doing anything so traumatizing to other people…

  19. I was frantic, excited, amazed at the incredible heat, power and intensity of the burn this year. I thought, what if I can run through the epigy, what if I can make it all the way through and out the other side, how cool would that be. I bet I can make it, it isn’t that hot, it isn’t that big. I walked through its legs several times before it was burning. Little did I know that earlier that day they added pallets and wood to the center of the legs to make it burn more. I did not know this, I ran through the legs thinking it was possible to make it to the other side. I hit a 4×4 and collapsed only to burn to death in the flames.

    I was at element11, with friends but still alone… I was at the incredible burn, feeling the intensity, watching the fire dancers do their thing… I was still alone… nobody talked to me the nights before, nobody danced with me, nobody asked how I was doing. I was alone. Everybody else seemed happy. I saw the burn, I felt the heat, I knew what I was doing, I ran, I danced, I shook my arms, ran my legs and tore into the fire. I knew I would die, I wanted people to see and know that I suffered, that the burn wasn’t that great for all, that some of us were sill alone and that it cannot cure all.

    My muscles twitched and shook my arms as I burned, this had nothing to do with my run into the fire. It was simply physics and chemistry. My run was incredible, I had a high that nobody can understand, I launched myself into a firy cauldron.

    • As beautiful as your statement is, Benjamin, please, dont assume he was really alone for all night and even during the day or even any days and night prior. Please, dont assume he had no friends or even that nobody cared about him. Dont assume his thoughts or reasons…I understand you are expressing yourself, but still there are others who did care about him and from what i gathered, from other statements, he wasn’t forgotten or alone. I just dont want anyone to read your “poem” and think there was something they could have done, or even that was he motives.

  20. Look I can’t be quiet about this anymore.. I never have been so astounded by the hurtful nature of the humane race in my personal life other than now!! The Element 11 comments literally boiled my blood all last night and into this morning, If those comments are not pure hate, I don’t know what hate would look like. Suicide- Non-Suicide- Drug Induced it doesn’t matter. A life was lost. let me repeat that A LIFE … WAS.. LOST, it was lost. How it happened, Why it happened. It happened and instead of individuals offering comfort they are bashing and berating the memory of someone who might not have even known what they were doing. He did not feel pain.. you can not cry and state sensationalism over an act that was actually as peacefully as anyone could go. I’m sure people are reeling to prove me wrong. I’ve seen most people offering sympathy be shut down, spit out and be told they are the selfish ones being insensitive to the party goers feelings. Well hell what about the deceased and their families feelings??! THERE IS NO COMMUNITY IF YOU CAN’T PROTECT YOUR OWN , The tragedy is in the reactions of the onlookers. It is a sad day.. the saddest part is how insensitive people are being to the deceased.

    • You need to calm down. You are focusing on every negative comment yet not acknowledging the many supportive words. Calm…the…fuck…down. You are doing nothing but feeding into the hysteria.

      • On social media outside of this page, there were other regional burns hosting comments that were beyond disrespectful. As this page was the one being shared, to spark those other threads, it’s important for people to be able to give this man compassionate thoughts.. I saw posts were people who were saying “have compassion” be berated- Literally my heart broke. Eventually the threads were taken down. Please understand what is said here was sparking elsewhere. Today the air has changed.. for that I’m grateful

  21. I find it amazing how many comments there are about this guy being “selfish” and inflicting scars upon the spectators.

    If you’ve traveled in some parts on Earth where death isn’t pushed away like a plague, you’d know that death happens to anyone. Suicides occur regularly, as does disease, old age and tragic accidents. This guy simply committed suicide. He didn’t do it to anyone else. If you think so, you’re being incredibly narcissistic. He may have popped the idealistic bubbles of burners thinking they’re in a magical pain free world, but all he did was self-immolation.

    Perhaps now would be a time to develop and use compassion. And I certainly hope people don’t overreact to this. What the burner community doesn’t need is chain face around the fire protecting people from their own choices. There’s too much of that in the States anyway.

  22. Pingback: Utah Suicide Victim Named | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  23. Pingback: Man Commits Suicide By Throwing Himself Into Fire At Element11 Festival | Magnetic Magazine

  24. Pingback: Man Perishes After Throwing Himself Into Fire At Element 11 Festival | Magnetic Magazine

  25. Pingback: Man leaps into bonfire at festival in Utah desert | Read News Online

  26. Having read the article and the entire comment thread, I have this response.

    This man, just like any person, any being, is the perfect mirror to your soul. Whatever you see in him is what you really see in yourself.

    If you see him as selfish, then you are probably selfish yourself.

    If you see him as malicious and evil, you can see those qualities in yourself as well.

    If you see him as protesting society’s ills, then you likely protest those ills.

    If you see him as quietly bowing out or ascending to the next state, you may yearn to do likewise.

    If you see him as drug-addled, then either you are on drugs yourself, or you desperately want to be but aren’t.

    If you see him as insane, you probably have a question regarding your own sanity.

    Whatever you see, you are. It’s always projection.

    And of course, all the individuals reacting are also mirrors for your soul. Anyone who sees the reaction of the traumatized festival-goers as selfish may also be selfish, etc.

  27. I was just at a local burner event, and I can understand the impact. However, I also know how out of place one would feel if they were going through a lot of pain. Acid can bring a lot of stuff out, and festivals can intensify alienation and pain at times. Safe zones aren’t always enough.

    I personally think we’re hypocritical about suicidal feelings. They come out of intense pain, a desire to escape from it, and so often they’re shamed. Even mentioning the suicide hotline can be shameful – like saying DON’T DO IT. Shame is the state of warring against yourself, making the pain and desire to escape an enemy. For many people, pain is there and there’s no escape from it. What’s needed is an ability to feel included while having that. Telling someone “go get help” is not inclusive and often makes things worse. When I’ve been in intense pain, paradoxically it was more helpful to get the message it’s ok to feel the desire for suicide, and it would even be ok if I did it if it were too much, because that helped lessen the shame. If it’s ok for people to suicide from too much physical pain, why is it not from emotional pain? I’m not advocating supporting anyone to do that, but removing any shame about it, so that those in pain can talk about it freely. That’s so important. When people react so intensely to the idea – or make you talk to an impersonal hotline – it makes it so hard to bring it up to friends. Radical inclusiveness can extend to intensely painful emotions too.

  28. I was there, and I can tell you the reaction of the people around me. At first, it wasn’t obvious what had happened. From our angle of view, he might have run past the fire and not into it. Once it had become clear what had transpired, a sense of shock came over everyone. Everyone was very quiet. A man spoke over the loudspeaker of the JellyFish art car, and spoke words of support and compassion for the man who had just died. The speaker passed along a suggestion that we all hold hands to honor the man who had just died. A long line of people holding hands formed, facing and partially encircling the fire. After this tragedy transpired, it was clear the celebration was over. I have never heard Element 11 be so quiet and subdued. There was a clear sense of shock among the participants, especially among the rangers and volunteers who helped put together this event that is meant to pull everyone together in a positive manner. There were lots of hugs and mutual comfort. Let me pass along my compassion on to the man who died, to his family, his friends, and to all the people who witnessed this tragedy.

      • They’re two separate legal definitions. An arsonist is a person convicted of arson. Mr. Addis was not convicted of arson. If you want to malign a dead person in such a way, why not call him a rapist or the President of the United States or whatever you want? Whatever makes you feel good.

  29. No doubt this man was on psychedelics, like many of the other participants were.

    When any group is together, there is a larger field that goes beyond any individual’s thoughts, choices, and actions. This is especially amplified by large crowds and altered states . as boundaries dissolve certain individuals can become hypersensitive to the group field and even the group unconscious and even become a lightning rod on behalf of the group. acting out on behalf of the group’s unconscious repressed shadow parts.

    The pain and terror you feel from witnessing this event is your own. Its not caused by this mans actions. Its been inside you since you were born or maybe longer. Your current personality is built around avoiding this part of yourself. That’s likely why this man got hijacked by the group field. As a lightning rod expression of the collective shadow. If you are looking for someone to blame. Blame yourself. When large groups of people take psychedelics with recreational intent and attachment to “positive” experiences, some sensitive folks will pay a price on behalf of the rest of the group’s “good time.”

    The real issue here is psychedelic safety and education. No one should be taking psychedelics in an environment like that. Sorry to say. Psychedelics are incredibly powerful healing tools but must be used in a safe setting.

    • You cannot blame the collective unconscious for the actions of one disturbed individual bent on suicide. It is nobody else’s fault but his own. Some fucking “therapist” you are.

    • This isn’t the place for staid agenda. I’m sure if that turns out to be the case, it will be blared loudly by the mainstream media. No need for you to make unsubstantiated predictions with no evidence.

      • staid agenda? while we don’t know exactly what happens, I don’t think we need hard evidence to prove the obvious. Who knows, his friends may deny any knowledge of what substance he was on for fear of incrimination.

        Who hasn’t had terrifying and ecstatic experiences of getting burned alive in a fire(and/or watching others get burned alive) while on psychedelics? If not, I’d say they don’t have much real experience with psychedelics. It’s gotta be one of the most common archetypal psychedelic experiences. It only makes 100% sense that under the right conditions on a good dose of psychedelics that it would seem extremely reasonable and even ecstatic to jump into a big fire. And people are wondering why?

        All sorts of human sacrifice seem like a good idea and even holy and sacred while under the influence of psychedelics, which explains why so many psychedelic cultures like the Mayans and Aztecs enthusiastically practiced human sacrifice.

        I guarantee I’ve had dozens of experiences that if I didn’t have a guide and a strong container and there was a big fire right near by I surely would have jumped in.

        I’m an advocate of psychedelics, but I think these festivals are the wrong place for them unless you have a highly contained setting within the festival for their use. This kind of irresponsible use of psychedelics makes a bad name for people who are really trying to advance the major therapeutic use of these substances.

        • A toxicology report will make it to the news regardless of what the family wishes. Too many people with a stake in promoting their version of The Truth™

          I don’t know about the rest of it. I’ve never had that particular experience or forgotten the basic rules, ‘Fire Burns. Gravity Hurts. Cars are Real.’ However, I didn’t try psychedelics until my late 30s as someone who had already done a lot of meditation. I read up on them pretty thoroughly and approached the experience as carefully as possible. I would agree that a party is not a good environment for them.

          I’m skeptical on your citation of human sacrifice. Tradition in parts of India have been for a widow to throw herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre. Religion, love, grief, and other emotions seem a more common vector than psychedelics.

          Regardless, even if the person was high, he knew he was engaging in risk. He chose to do something in an environment where he could harm himself or others. You can say it was the drugs or the fire or the culture that caused his death. I however, would blame myself if I harmed myself while in an altered state. That’s what bothered me about the ‘Drugs are Bad m’kay’ spiel. We’ve all heard it, many of us know it isn’t as truthy as presented. I also know quite well that success does not mean you won’t be depressed. Rather than trying to find something to blame, I would rather see us take home these two messages.

          1) YES, successful people can be depressed. If you feel suicidal or even like you’re taking unnecessary chances, you aren’t alone and there are people out there who can help. Anyone who matters isn’t going to think less of you if you seek help. They will appreciate that you are making the effort to protect the person they see in you.

          2) Actions have consequences and it only takes a moment to make a mistake. Too many drugs at a bonfire. Unprotected sex with a hook-up. Drowsy driving, driving while texting, road rage. It can all go wrong in an instant. Think before you act.

          • well said – although I’m not sure there’s going to be a toxicology report, especially since the police have ruled it a suicide.

            Your life, and the lives of others, can be irreparably changed in the blink of an eye. It really is that easy, sudden, and tragic. Think before you act, being fucked up is no excuse.

          • I hear you there. That’s why I’m interested in psychedelic education and safety. Too many burners in my community just hand out and push acid, mdma, other research chems onto new people(albeit with positive intentions) but recklessly and in the wrong setting IMHO.

            I do feel skeptical that there will be a toxicology report. I wonder how accurate it could even be from a charred body like his.

            hearing the reports that he mentioned his plans to other people earlier during the day has me wondering why no one was tracking him. If a couple of those people had reported his plans to the rangers they could have been even more on guard or specifically watching him.

            And at some level I think if people really want to commit suicide, that’s fine. I think we should let them. But I just feel concerned that this was actually an accident.

  30. Pingback: Burner Community Processes It’s Greatest Tragedy | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  31. I know that the hoop spinners and baton twirlers can get old but….
    Dumbest thing evar!!!! Just could not wait for the man to burn could ya?

    I just wish that there were a massive show of law enforcement to save him.

    It was better last year. the end.

  32. I feel for EVERYONE affected by this. Family, friends, witnesses…everyone.

    BM is about acceptance. I think folks need to accept this death even of you had to witness it and it inconvenienced you.

    A take away is being fortunate enough that you are loved and wake up wanting to live.

  33. The man who committed suicide was a member of my family. Not my burning man family–I’ve never been & don’t plan on ever going (no offense to your community) but my actual everyday life family. He was married, he had a good job with perks, and a life that although it was hard like all our lives are hard was also good. Our family is trying to make sense of this also, which is why I’ve found all the eyewitness accounts posted here fascinating. Personally, I don’t see how he could have committed suicide unless he was under the influence of SOMETHING. Right now my priority is supporting his poor wife, who wasn’t there, and was thrown into shock when police broke the news.

    Next time y’all consider calling someone names for committing suicide publicly, please consider all the poor decisions you’ve made when you’ve been drunk or high, and give that person the benefit of the doubt that perhaps they weren’t acting in full possession of their faculties.

    • I apologize for our (what may seem) morbid interest in your family tragedy. We are trying to put together what happened in our presence, and I assure you that none of those who witnessed his act are unaffected by it. Please forgive any perceived callousness. We are trying to figure it out together, and it is a fumbling, but honest process. My tender thoughts to his family for your loss. I can’t imagine.

      • you’t comments are rude and helpful to no one.
        Not “almost everyone else” was on drugs.
        thats just YOUR opinion..
        Did YOU personally drug test people as they left?

    • Thank you for posting. All of us who are witnesses are grieving that one of our own Burner family did something like this.
      As our group rose to move back I noticed that a man from somewhere close to us on the perimeter was dancing towards the flames. I thought it was a little soon to do the fire dance. He seemed full of joy waiving his arms and skipping. I assumed was caught up in the moment. Then, as the rangers closed in towards him to tell him to back up, he bolted, spun as he leapt in and landed on his butt. Boards crashed down around him and his hands came up, as if reaching towards the sky. Rangers and firemen moved forward in a vain attempt to rescue him but the heat was too intense. Within what seemed like just 15 seconds the second tier of the structure came down. As someone said, he had a look of joy on his face as he jumped. That joy was sucked out of everyone there and that joy went up in the sky and smoke with him.
      Many are trying to understand why, as is his default world family. I know it may be hard, but when you (Grieving Relative), campmates and others who knew him personally are able to talk more about him, it will begin this emotional healing process. I’m sure some in this community can be helped and achieve some sense of closure by knowing more about him, his life, his motivations and his sense of mind before, going and while at E11. The big question most people had afterwards was “Why?” I still do.
      I went to sleep last night with the image of him jumping in the flames in my head. I woke up this morning to it. Food has not tasted good since that night, when I can even eat it. I’ll see that image for a long time.
      But I’m strong. I’ll get through this. But many will need help after having this moment burned in to their psyche, some brains enhanced by mind expanding substances which makes the impact even deeper. His actions affected everyone. He made his end a public event and now the public who witnessed it needs to come together to help each other.
      Saturday night I put aside my own thoughts. My motivations, along with my wife’s, was to help others. We set out across our little city and sought out people standing alone. We checked on them, offered aid, comfort, hugs, anything they needed. We ended up back at our vortex camp and sat until late in the morning, calling out to people who walked by if they needed to talk. Some did. If you are hurting, do not suffer this pain in private. Talk about it.

    • I am sorry for your loss but I also need to speak. Many of the people who commit suicide are good and bright people who seem to have everything going for them. Even if the toxicology report shows him to have been drunk, you must recognize that he chose to put himself in that state.

      You will see people reacting defensively here because for many of us, this is our family and the outside world is often all-too-ready to condemn us all for the actions of an individual. The people who are speculating about him are doing so out of the same hurt and trying to understand that leads you to the conclusion of drugs and environment. We all want to believe our families ‘safe’ and attribute darkness to a force that it outside of us.

    • I’m very sorry for your loss. I was at this event and count myself fortunate that I was occupied at the moment of the tragedy and did not witness it firsthand. After much deliberation I decided today to view footage of that moment. After seeing it, I wanted to share with you the possibility that this man’s intentions were not to commit suicide. It appears to me that he may instead have been attempting the impossible stunt of running through the fire, then tripped and fell upon reaching it. If his judgment was impaired for any reason at the time, it may be that he felt such a feat was possible. No matter the underlying reasoning and intention, this will be a most difficult time for you and the rest of his family and friends. I raise this possibility because I know that trying to understand the suicide of a loved one can add even greater pain to your time of grief, and I would hope that you don’t needlessly suffer that specific challenge if in fact his intentions were not to deliberately end his life.

      I can’t imagine how hard it would be to view this footage if I were in your position, but to do so may give you some useful insight into what his intentions may have been. I can provide a link if you would like it.

      • He didn’t trip. I was right in front and had a perfect view. He ran straight for the center of the fire and leaped in. It couldn’t have been more intentional. Talking to the people he was with, I heard that he had been doing massive ammounts of mescaline the whole time. He even told some people that he planned on doing it…

    • Do you think that maybe I could talk to you about him sometime? I think it would help to understand a bit more about who he was and possibly why he did it. I need to find clousure on this so I can be at peace about it.

    • Grieving Relative – I can’t even imagine what your family is going through right now! As one of the front line Rangers it was between another Ranger and I that he broke perimeter. I also personally am one of the 3-4 Rangers that chased him into the fire. I had briefly talked to him a few minutes before this happened. I would love nothing more than to be able to talk to his family. It would tremendously help me personally in processing and healing from this. It may also help put closure on your end to hear a first count of what really happened. A lot of these “eye witness” accounts are not what truly happened. Is this something you would be interested in? If so how do we get in touch? I can promise you that the people who were right there up front have nothing but empathy for you! I have not heard one single negative or mean word cross a single persons mouth. I have NEVER in my life felt so much love and support. Please let us extend that to you!!!!!

      • My heart goes to you, Ranger Moe. You’re the eyes and ears, but you’re not the super hero. I hope you find peace and thank you for your work. You can only do so much.
        Ranger Mamakat/ Ocelot

    • My most sincere condolences to your entire family at the tragic loss of husband, son, brother, and friend. At times like this it can be helpful to retreat from social media, though I understand, very much, your need to find answers in some of the posts to explain what happened.

      The hurt caused by the ignorance that surrounds the topic of suicide and a**holes who feel they need to post their self-righteousness, can, by itself, be disturbing and destructive. Keep your family secure, safe and far away from these comments.

      Suicide is mostly an impulsive action, with or without any additional influences. Without being in the moment, in his mind, some questions may never be answered.

      May you eventually find peace in your love and memories <3

    • Dearest GR,
      Please, don’t take any hate you see as a reflection of this community on a whole.
      They don’t speak for us all.
      There are some who are dealing with the horrors, and there are some who are just stupid- and we Rangers have a saying, “you cant fix stupid”.
      Please, let us know of any memorial fund for you and your family, if any at all.
      I want to share this with those I know, nationally, within our loving community.

      To all those who are dealing with this, in which way possible: May you find peace and understanding, very quickly, in this extremely hard and painful time. PLEASE, SEEK HELP!!!!
      You will get this through this; if you don’t get over it-which you may not.
      Peace,Namaste’, love and deepest sympathy for those left behind in all manners either family or witnesses, participants, Rangers, and Fire suppression.
      on behalf on those who feel your loss and pain-
      Take care of yourselves and each other,
      Ranger Mamakat.
      10 years a Burner and still counting )^(

  34. An interesting thought experiment: Imagine if the man who committed suicide was a woman. The various comments sections would be filled with RIP Sweet Agent, etc. There would be an effort to learn her identity so we could send flowers to her parents. She was obviously misunderstood, such a pity and a loss. RIP, Sweet Angel, RIP.

    But since it was a man = rot in hell. You ruined our party. Selfish asshole, etc.

    • I think your own comment proves that not to be true Joe. People’s reaction to a tragedy will be based largely on their own baggage. You apparently feel women would get some preferential treatment and likely as not, a lot of other people would have the same reaction and one of them would say something like, “Stupid c**t probably got dumped by her boyfriend or something.”

      We can skip the value judgement on this behavior. It could be their way of distancing themselves from their own demons. It could be that they are jealous someone else had the spotlight. It’s a natural if not entirely beautiful human behavior.

      I think if you make a less selective reading of the comments, you will find that the vast majority are supportive or grieving and questioning. Even most of the angry-sounding ones, if you listen closely are hiding whispers that say, ‘Why?’ and ‘Please don’t blame my family for what happened. It was him, not us.’

  35. Pingback: Man commits suicide by leaping into giant bonfire at Burning Man-style festival in Utah | New York news

  36. Sending LOVE and healing energy everyones way. This is a very tragic and sad event. You all are in my thoughts.

  37. It’s amazing how the rumor mill spins and spins. There was no magnesium in the fire. There were some other accelerants (it takes a bit to get a couple thousand board-feet of old scaffolding planks to go up in flames as a bonfire), but yeah, it was an intensely hot fire- that’s how we build ’em. Also, among the first things that the e-11 bod did was to get in touch with Burning Man and get their legal and other support, because we know this impacts the entire burn community.

    To the blogger (whoever you are), I really appreciate that you are aggregating all the news on this. It’s hard to find, and you are providing a good service. You are also holding space for people to process and discuss this, as is also occurring on many other discussion groups. Though we all have our –intense– feelings about this, I am hoping that all the “space holders” can see beyond their own thoughts and emotions, and resist the urge to name call or judge anyone or their comments. We all need to let it out at this point, and shushing and “you’re saying it wrong” does not allow that to happen. Anger is definitely one of the stages of grieving, so let’s not turn it on each other.

    • Thanks MadMaxine, I really appreciate your support. Like rape on the Playa, this is an issue for the community, and it needs to be spoken about somewhere, not swept under the rug. If sharing helps, everyone please share here. We don’t censor our comments, and so far we haven’t needed to, everyone in the Burners.Me community seems to be being pretty respectful – despite strong opinions being felt, my own included. We weren’t there, and I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for those who were. My thoughts go out to you all.

  38. I had a close, clear view. The man was smiling and full of joy, all the way into the inferno. Now there are 1000+ people trying to put heir lives back together. I hope wherever he is he’s paying for his fucking selfishness.

    • Interesting perspective, but not untypical. The view is that one man’s suicide made victims out of 1000+ people. It hurt their feelings, and that triggers their victimhood mindset. Never mind that a man is dead, we have 1000+ Burners who are bummed out, and it’s all HIS fault, we will never recover. Plus, he ruined our party – I hope he rots in hell for eternity. Nice.

      • I feel bad for the suicide victim. I can’t imagine what pain he was going through, and what drove him to do what he did. But he forced his baggage on us, and that crosses the line into being a super asshole. It’s not that our feelings were hurt. Not that our party was ruined. It’s that we will be scarred for a long time.

        The guy could have died alone, or around a few friends, or whatever. He chose to harm 1000+ on the way out. Yeah, rot in hell.

        • I happen to know who this gentleman was. I have a hard time believing that this was a suicide. He went on a weekend camping trip with some buddies and was probably under the influence of something at the time this happened. He leaves behind a grieving family and wife who is devastated. So while the experience of witnessing what he went through was probably outright horrific, he just made some poor decisions which led him to an accident that ended his life. You don’t know him. To wish someone to rot in hell because they made a poor decision is a horrible thing.

          • Do you think that maybe I could talk to you about him sometime? I think it would help to understand a bit more about who he was and possibly why he did it. I need to find clousure on this so I can be at peace about it.

          • Is there a way for me to contact you without displaying my contact information on this site? I don’t know him extremely well but I know his wife really well and him through his wife. She had even told me about his weekend camping trip with his friends before he left on Friday evening expecting to see him again Sunday. From the information I’ve gathered from his wife so far today, his family is still trying to make sense of what has happened. I’ve heard several different rumors from different witnesses that all saw different things. One person said he was yelling angry threats before he ran in, one person described him looking “joyous and euphoric.” One person said he left a suicide note, others say he did not. I have a hard time believing it was a premeditated suicide and more likely perhaps tried to run in between the legs of the structure and falling into it.

            I am so sorry that you had to witness this tragedy and hope you can find peace. I hope people will not be quick to judge by calling him selfish and inconsiderate. He may have no intended to die at all. At this point in time, I don’t really think anyone knows exactly what happened.

          • Is there any possibility I could also talk with you, Anonymous? I witnessed the entire thing and would very like to understand…

      • TabbyCat – its not quite as easy as the way you portray it. The reality is that I have been having to deal with matching a man jump into a fire and burn to death in front of my eyes pretty much non-stop for the past 36 hours, and even as i write this i am working hard not to break down crying because i am at work. i wish i had never seen that. i assume a lot of people feel like me. i am sad…simply sad. but the reality is that you can’t deny a LOT of people have been affected strongly by this, and that this was inflicted upon them….not of their choosing.

      • If this individual were truly under the influence of mind altering substances, he more than likely took them willingly. Did he have an inkling he would charge directly into an inferno when he took said substances? I’m sure he did not. I’ve seen far too many people completely lose their minds at burns and festivals, to the point where they’ve been removed from the property and hospitalized.

        My point with this response is that if you REALLY need mind-altering substances to have a good time and take something which mentally blasts you off into a different dimension, please be mindful that your body is still here on earth and is potentially doing some really stupid shit which affects everyone around you. Your carelessness in this matter is damaging our community and bringing forth unwanted attention.

  39. Obviously, we need fire control. LIcenses should be required, mandatory safety training and background checks, and regular police inspections.

    Remember, the fire you light is the fire most likely to kill you.

    • The world should be entirely safe. A wall should go up around anything that presents any danger. Disney has the right idea.

    • There is major fire control, licences, and Firemen, The security and everything that could have been done was done. This was an extremely selfish act and was intentional in the worst way. Especially since he took a selfy, threw his phone on the ground and made a mad dash for the flames and leaped in for family and friends to find. Very intentional. I am sorry for his family that didn’t know how troubled he was. If he was under the the influence of risky chemicals and alcohol, that person is playing roulette anyway and is suicidal. That’s why they do it. IT IS SOLELY YOUR CHOICE TO DO RISKY DRUGS. Its no secret that hundreds of thousands of people have attended Burningman and done drugs. As far as i know there has not been but 2 other suicides at burningman. Those numbers don’t lie.

      And Drugs? Hell, if you think you don’t do drugs your wrong. Over 3/4 this country goes to their doctor and does drugs prescribed every day too. News flash! Its the same chemical compounds used in recreational drugs. Its no excuse! My brother in-law committed subside by gunshot to the head. It was his wish. No one expected it, and the family seemed to blame it on the alcohol and some pain killers. No. It’s our fault as his closest support group (family) for not reaching out to him, and not recognizing the pain he was in. I personally feel responsible for his death and will carry it with me always. I could have reached out, embraced him, and didn’t do enough as his brother in-law.
      I would never blame an organization, event, for a person right to ingest dangerous chemicals.

      -6 time Attendee at E11 and 10 year burner.

  40. The entire three story structure was packed with wood so that it would burn hotter and longer. They also soaked the thing in flammables so that the flames spread quickly. After the fire dancers finished their show the board of directors marched up the the statue with flares and threw them all into it. Within a minute the entire thing was engulfed in flames. The thing was three stories tall, the flames reached even higher.

    It burned for a good 10 minutes before that asshole made a run for it. There was a perimiter setup about 60 ft away from the burn. The flames were so hot that people had to back even further away. Even then I was standing behind people because the heat was still burning my skin.

    The first thing I saw was the guards running after him. I was right in front so I had a perfect view of everything. When I saw him he was dancing towards the fire. He even stopped to dance backwards for a moment. Continuing his dance he bolted forward again and did a front flip… Right into at the base of the fire… I couldn’t be sure if what I had seen had been real. There was almost no reaction in the crowd. Had they not seen it? Or were they in shock just as bad as I was? I only heard one person scream. I was too disoriented to tell where the sound came from. Later I found out it was Scarlett right in front of me.

    Part of the structure kind of collapsed in on him when he went through the beam. At that point, any ridiculous hope that he could still be pulled out was gone. He was buried and no one could get even close to the fire. We were still able to see him though. I watched as his body slowly fell apart as the intense heat cooked him alive. Minutes later, after part of his body had already disintegrated and he should have been dead, his arm started twitching. It kept doing that for what felt like hours but couldn’t have been more than minutes, if that. Even now I still see that arm twitching every time I close my eyes. That or the flip he did right as the jumped in. Neither of those are as bad as the thought that keeps plaguing my mind. He didn’t scream… How is it even possible that he didn’t scream…

    As soon as everyone regrouped we stood there watching the fire as the firemen were desperately trying to put it out. My legs went weak and I sat down unable to move. Everyone was crying. Someone mentioned going to the ascension temple (a kind of relaxation tent) instead of watching. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t talk. I just sat there and watched their futile attempts to put it out. As the ash from the fire fell on us, I started to wonder how much of that used to be human flesh? I was unresponsive for somewhere around an hour. I don’t really remember much of that hour. Or the rest of the night for that matter. It would probably be worth mentioning that the acid I took had started peaking right around the time that he had jumped in. Every moment of watching him die had been seared into my mind… As my friend Judas put it “no offense but you’re most likely going to be psychologically scarred for the rest of your li It t be a good idea to avoid acid for a while.”

    Eventually the police showed up and one of the asked if we were ok. Our whole group looked pretty bad. My friends explained that we had seen it all and he asked us to fill out witness reports. Standing up to walk over to the police cars was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

    While we were waiting to fill out statements one of the Element 11 volunteers noticed me and walked over. He was worried that I was just about to be sick. I didn’t respond. He stood there and hugged me for a while as I cried. As we waited they started grouping people with sheets around the remains of the fire. We couldn’t see what they were covering up but we all knew. I could see the paramedics walking to and from the vehicle as they carried what must have been multiple body parts…

    The waiting got to be too much. I didn’t want to be around people so I snuck behind the truck and walked off. In the middle of all of that horror I abandoned my best friends out of selfishness… I am more ashamed of that than anything I’ve ever done. They needed me and I just left…

    Walking back to camp I was stopped by all kinds of people worried about how I looked. I still wasn’t saying much so they would just give me a hug and tell me to stay around friends. Instead I went back to camp to throw up and be alone. I sat in the van for about an hour just staring at nothing. Replaying the event over and over in my head. My arm kept twitching every time I thought about the way his arm twitched and wondered if he was still alive during that.

    After a while one of my friends showed up and we talked about what had just happened. What made us even more sick than watching him burn was the way people reacted. Within minutes there were people asking if they were still going to do the second burn. Worried that the party was going to be shut down and people would have to leave. One couple set up a blanket and everything, so they could “at least watch what was left of the burn.”. One lady kept going off about how it was her birthday that day, and that it was just her luck that something like that would happen. It disgusted me… After about an hour the music was going again and people were back to dancing. “Celebrating life” was their bullshit excuse.

    • If a person is determined to commit suicide, they will. And he was not alive when his arms twitched. That has to do with with shortening of the tendons as the body burns, if that is any comfort.

    • thanks Zoe for this heartfelt and detailed description. Staying away from mind altering substances for a while is probably good advice for everybody who witnessed this tragedy. I think it would be totally normal to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress. This is not the kind of thing that happens every day – or ever – and I would encourage anyone who saw it to have some sort of session. Therapist, counsellor, priest, anything. Reliving it must be horrible, but not processing it could be worse.
      The people’s reaction is saddening, perhaps they didn’t see what you saw, or perhaps they were on their own trip and it affected them differently.

      • I’ve already been contacted by the head ranger for Element 11. They for professionals waiting to help anyone that was affected by this. He asked if he could have someone contact me.

    • Not Dancing! My freind was near this person before hand. This guy was muttering violent things and was scaring people around him in the crowd with his actions before he ran in at a full sprint into the flames. 3-4 people chased him to no avail. My heart goes out to all the Rangers and Fire Spinners who tried to stop this horrific event.

      • He was absolutely dancing. He was windmilling his arms and everything. I was there with a group watching the whole thing and we all saw the same thing.

    • For all those that have been traumatized by this you have my sympathy, energy, love and light. I am an EMT/Firefighter (pro for a number of years) and now a forensic anthropologist. I can assure you all that with a fire that large and that hot he felt nothing after maybe 15 seconds and unfortunately for me to say and you to hear but I hope some find comfort with these words, he quickly inhaled flames, you don’t feel anything after that because you are gone. The twitching of his arms was muscles, tendons and ligaments contracting from the heat, he was not alive.

      I apologize for sounding maybe a touch cold or clinical in my explanation but I have seen this happen first hand more than once or twice. It will always be with you, in your nightmares. Be prepared to relive it at your next few burner events, when you feel the heat or watch the flames. Many of you have a form of PTSD now, I have had it for many years and I relive some of my worst calls and cases every few days. I don’t sleep much anymore. Please all of you find someone to talk to, see a therapist for a little while, ANYTHING that can help you through this. DON’T do any psychedelics for awhile, if not for yourself then for your families and friends who care about you. If you find yourself thinking about suicide because of what you saw (yes it happens very easily in situations like this it happened to me and I actually attempted,worst thing I ever have done) PLEASE call your local crisis intervention line or dial 1-800-273-8255 for the national crisis hotline.

      I don’t know any of you personally, but I care about you all deeply.


    • It’s…REALLY not appropriate to use a popcorn gif when someone has committed violent suicide. Seriously.

  41. Oingo Boingo: Nothing Bad Ever Happens:

    “Have you heard about the Joneses, my, my, my
    It happened so quick and no one knows why
    Their teenage son, he seemed O.K.
    But his suicide ruined everyone’s day”

  42. The attitudes against the victim reminds me of the attitude against Addis after the early burn. Back then there were calls for him to be raped and sexually mutilated (because he was alive). Since we can do that, there’s just this pent-up aggression. Someone needs to be blamed for ruining the party. Maybe we can arrest his bones.

  43. He literally just disappeared after dancing to the flames.

    To his family- He made the easiest exit out, weather led by other forces or not. It was as peaceful as could possibly be. He might not have known.. literally disappearing like a magic trick.

    My thoughts and heart go out out to All. It’s very lucky there was no scream- no noise- no flailing or presence of pain. That is truly something to be grateful for.. Hugs to All!! Embrace your personal moments for the rarity of what we find important is sometimes lost.

  44. Your religion has intrigued me for a long time but I’ve always been put off by how it seems so much like the Wicker Man and Bohemian Grove. After seeing this I’m convinced there is something to my initial thought.

  45. Here is the video of it actually happening. Please take my posting of this with the spirit in which it intended: to clarify what actually happened so incorrect speculation about it can be cleared up. This is a tragedy of epic proportions for sure, but transparency is the key.

    • I hope you gave this to the police, fire dept and organizers.

      In the meantime, I’m going to flag this on youtube, because it is a sick, sick thing to make this so public.

    • Please remove this video! It is horridly insensitive to post this now, for the family of the deceased and those of us that witnessed the incident. We’re still coming back to the default world and trying to deal with this tragedy. Give us a minute to catch our fucking breath.

      • How about no? Maybe the rest of us need to make sure we saw what we really did and this is a way to be able to process it.

        I’m sad this happened but being able to learn from it and accept it is very helpful. Maybe lessons learned here will be instrumental in ensuring that this never happens again.

    • Thank-you for trying to clarify exactly what happened, for all of us who care about the family if the deceased and are confused about exactly what happened.

    • The video I linked here is far enough away as to see what he did, but not close enough to be excessively graphic or gory. I would not have posted it if it was.

      Again, I think people need to see the actual state of mind he was in to grasp what happened.

      And yes, this video has been given to the police and fire department.

    • I could not bring myself to watch the video. I’m not going to remove Hammerman’s comment and link to it, that’s up to YouTube. Better eyewitness accounts and video evidence than armchair speculation. I just hope they don’t start selling ads on it.

    • Thank you Hannerman, well done. As we embrace our brothers and our sisters, as we ebrace ourselves…these oh so human moments are important to hold in the most sacred of spaces in our hearts and souls. Unafraid of who we are and what we experience. And most of all, we ebrace our brother burner. As we expand to include this experience into our hearts and our souls we honor that which is greater than the sorrows, that which is more than the fears and be grateful that we had our brother burn with us for as long as we did. This is precious and we ebrace you, our brother burner, with all that we are, however imperfect, and in gratitude remember everything about you and cherish each precious memory, we are so human and you help us embrace our humanness. Thank you, our burner brother, may you walk on in peace.

  46. Here is the video of it actually happening. Please take my posting of this with the spirit in which it intended: to clarify what actually happened so incorrect speculation about it can be cleared up. This is a tragedy of epic proportions for sure, but transparency is the key.

  47. CORRECTION: the “anonymous witness” in the article above is quoted as saying “he man just danced further toward the fire. Firefighters started to follow but before they could get to him, the man danced up to the edge and then just calmly jumped in. Just laid down in the fire and then disappeared into the flames.”

    NO – nothing could be farther from what happen.

    when i first saw this person, they were running wildly across the playa: whether to escape the rangers or dancing i do not know. very quickly, he then raced towards the fire. about 10-15 feet away, he suddenly stopped (from the heat?), then just as quickly took a step backwards for momentum, and then they launched themselves full tilt into the fire, running as fast as he could the last 10-15 feet, jumping high with the last step, and hurling themselves into the flames while curling his arms around his body as he sailed into the air. he landed right into a corner and then simply lay there where he landed, ablaze, until about 30 seconds later the charred corpse suddenly jerked its arms; the animal within releasing its death throe.

    why is this important?!!

    because it would be very wrong, sad and unfair to think that the rangers and firefighters ensuring security would simply let someone “calmly walk into the fire”.

    There was nothing “calm” about what happened. it was a violent act. the person who took their own life did so in a violent way, leaping with force into flames.

    it was also a violent act thrust upon 1200 unsuspecting spectators, myself included, who have spent all night and all day trying to forget the horror played out for them.

    sadness all around

  48. Weird how some accounts say he ran full speed into the fire and some say he danced into it then laid down.

  49. Thank you Libra, you have said exactly what people need to hear. There is way too much selfishness on this subject.

  50. Why burn good Art???
    Do you relay need to do this to feel a certain way?…If so then perhaps you have skewed reality. Try something else!
    Your sending a distructive message and setting up a situation, were the Artist could decide burn with their Art…. WELL IT HAPPENED !!!!

    You look like a Cult!…not flea market!

    • Because that’s what the artist wants. A lot of the art that goes to Burning Man and it’s allied events isn’t burnt. Much of it finds permanent homes after the events. But the climax is always the burning or a large effigy. It brings closure and is quite a show.

      Not all art is meant to be permanent.

      • I would like to add this: Is not a firework good art? Most people seem to enjoy a great firework display/show and that is simply just another type of fire. There is something magical and I would even say primal about fire. It is cleansing and destructive. We love it and have to respect it. This event is an expression of beauty, ingenuity and passion. It is tragic that an individual decided to rob this moment from so many people.

  51. I was not at the Burn I can only imagine how horrifying it would be. I equally can imagine how horrifying his life must have been to act out that particular situation. He may not have been on drugs. Burns are beautiful places with beautiful souls.. If one was to intend to end their life, at an effigy would actually make sense. Especially under a full moon. Open your hearts and maybe see that his everyday existence might have needed such an end. That maybe in his death he saw beauty in a peace that could not come from anywhere else. To disrespect a fellow human by bashing their last memory is not kind. It is selfish on the part of the onlookers. In humane acts happen everyday, and yes you were privy to it. Do you know how much of insensitive assholes you sound like that are complaining your life was touched with reality. because you’d rather ignore the truth of someone else’s existence. We hope the old go in their sleep, we which tragedy’s a quick painless death. Do you not see this might have been one souls last attempt at peace. I’m not un-acknowledging it a Severe Severe experience for those witnessing. But life is fragile and you guys are not respecting that. People live a personal war everyday and your claiming selfishness at a time where quiet peace is needed. Where people need to think on the reality of other’s existence. Just because you have strength to live does not make a person who does such a thing weak. You have not been in their shoes, and taking your life can be for the betterment if that really is their personal reality. Don’t smart a person for living their own art. If he was a monk burning in protest you’d respect it. He was burning in protest. Respect it.

    • While your calls for compassion for this man and is troubles certainly come from a good place, I have to wonder why you do not have the same compassion for the several hundred people who witnessed a truly horrific and narcissistic act. This act has left deep scars in hundreds of individuals, and has wounded my community, my FAMILY, and how deeply is yet to be seen. This person did this to us intentionally, and I see no reason to forgive him for it, regardless of how justified he may have felt about it. This person took something that was built by a community and used it, and all those who helped build Element 11, into a tool for misguided, self seeking glory. No one deserves to be called an asshole for being uncomfortable with an entirely traumatic experience.

      • Hi Matt, show me one single link where you have written similar sentiments about the routine slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children by our government. Show me one single piece of evidence that you have ever expressed such strong feelings regarding the sensibilities of any normally thinking American citizens devastated by witnessing their own government killing thousands of innocents? If you cannot, then spare us all your armchair moralizing.

    • Romanticize suicide all you want, but you weren’t there watching a guy jump into a massive fire. I was and it was bullshit. But then again it was suicide, so he clearly didn’t care about himself or others.

    • Thank you for that. All the negativity on this is very upsetting and I feel you worded it perfectly. Love to everyone effected.

  52. Element 11 -2014 Changed my life in many, many positive ways. Lights, sounds, art, peace, happiness, healing and The most amazing loving, accepting people out there where there to have peace, fun, unity, and love.

    The night Sparky was going up in flames was very exciting, inspiring and positive. The Utah Fire tribe put on one of the most amazing fire shows I have ever seen!

    Suddenly a man danced over to the fire and leaped in.

    and he was Gone.
    How can anyone besides he comprehend why?

    Every person reacts differently to so many substances and experiences – There is no Order or blame to put on this.

    He guided himself into the inferno.

    It reminds me of the importance of every living moment – the frailty of life – anything can change and unexpected things happen that can be very ungraspable.

    My Heart and subtle acknowledgement of silence and space goes out to his family and all of my brothers and sisters who witnessed this with me.

    Im so happy we are still here. In this moment.


  53. for all we know he could of been tripping on who knows what and who knows what dose and all he saw was a illuminated creature from one of his childhood books beckoning him to go on a magical journey. thats my best guess unfortunately if such was the case it ended poorly and we know nothing of this individuals mental state prior. it doesn’t really sound like a typical depression induced suicide as much as delusion induced through some sort of psychotropic substance or even mixture of substances. it is a burn afterall. im not talking down on psychedelics im rather widely experienced with them and believe they hold many positive benefits but sometimes a person may take more than intended or a substance they are not familiar with and the result is a very poor choice. my point being overall it doesn’t really sound like INTENDED suicide

  54. I would caution those who perceive suicide as a selfish act, especially in this case which could have involved a compromised state of mind by drugs or mental illness. As others have said, it would be ideal if a community of radical inclusion could meet all human expression without judgement, with compassion for the experience of self and others, including the choice to end a life (work of art) by fire, as so many have spoken about and witnessed as a beautiful thing. It is not a failure to prevent an individual from ending suffering if that is what they choose to do. Of course, we cannot speculate what this individual’s choices were, but if witnesses were upset or felt brutalized by his actions, best to look inward to see what that brings up for you and provide self care, rather than continuing a negative judgment which only prolongs your suffering.

  55. Burner Nola:

    Educate yourself on suicide. Please. Then open your mouth. Your comment is uneducated and down right rude!

  56. I’m curious about friends who knew him.
    Like he was hanging out and then Bam! Time to end my life!
    And — we all know he wasn’t in the right mindset to consider how the action was going to affect all the people who witnessed it. What kind of drugs cover a being’s instinct to flow through life, protecting one’s body from pain/death?
    Hell, I know damn sure that a person using E or MJ would ‘not’ have chosen this path…
    My final note is – If you are thinking “Hey- I’d like to go this way”
    Please… Make a private fire – Try to consider others – mehhhhh *SIGH*

    Hugz to all who were there, whether you saw it or not – Keep in mind, that we all have to go – and it’s okay that he chose this way. Just sad that it had to be a public display. 🙁

  57. It is so shocking to have seen what had happened last nite, I can’t belive some many beautiful and amazing people and I had to see a man make a poor choice. We must move on and enjoy who we have and embrace and respect all always.

  58. It is terribly sad that someone would want to die especially in such a tragic and painful way. But how incredibly selfish to inflict his pain on everyone else!

    • People who committ suicide are in the darkest place to where they become extremely selfish but they don’t realize it. That’s part of the disease….

      • Selfish? I still have never understood this line of reasoning. I don’t see how such a complex act can be reduced to such a bizarre, thin allegation. Selfish. How so? Because it forces people to think about life? Because of what, exactly?

  59. I was there. Speculation and blame are unneeded just now, love and support is. Thank you.

    And the photo credit is 100% bullshit. It is indeed a photo of the Grantsville FD and PD responding, but I know for a fact it was not taken by the person named. I know who she is, and I know she has never set foot at a Utah burn. I am deeply insulted by this action at such a traumatizing time.

  60. Brutal for those who had to witness this.

    Was he out of his mind on drugs? Did he do it in a public forum as a last ditch attempt to be saved? Art? Mental insanity?

    We will never know why those who commit suicide do it. Maybe there is no reason at all except to simply end their lives.

    I hope his friends and family he left behind finds a way to cope with this.

  61. For such a ‘loving community’, no one says anything about the poor soul who ended his life this way. Poor you, you were so traumatized. Narcissistic hippies.

    • Although I am sympathetic towards people with mental illness, this person calmly chose to deeply traumatize 1200 people. This is more like somebody who shoots up a school and then takes their own life, than someone who jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge.

      • How dare someone go to a celebration and not celebrate! How dare they use this event to spread their sadness! We need to be happy happy happy and ignore anything bad. Sad, anguished people should not be allowed to gatherings of fun. Maybe there should be a suicide station out in the parking lot so nobody has to watch. Interrupt my fun! Psh. I pay good money to erase the reality of life!

        • I don’t know what reality you live in, but I’ve never known a world where we can ignore everything bad. We can’t just pretend that all is good and dandy when it isn’t. These things happen. Happy or sad, it’s a part of life. Life goes on and life ends. A festival is no exception. There were definitely more appropriate ways for this man to go about this, but it was his life, his journey, and his choice. I can’t understand, I just hope this man found what he was looking for. I pray for his friends, family, and everyone, myself included, who watched this man dance to his end and go out in a blaze.

          • Ok, I suppose you are right. But what about the suicide booth idea? Oh btw, do you ask permission before you pray for people? Somebody might take offense, so be careful.

    • There were quite a few comments about how tragic it was for the suffering and troubled mind set that led up to such an action. They are merely focusing on those that can be helped now as it is too late to help the poor soul tat made the choice to end his life. No one is being narsissistic and now is not the time to be critical of those dealing with their grief.

    • What on EARTH do you mean Mike? No one is ignoring the fact that this poor man was not enjoying life.. No hippie is being narcissistic,
      Why are you so angry?

    • I absolutely agree with Mike. Sorry. I have been absolutely astounded reading these comments and article. MUCH more about how traumatic it was to witness than about the actual person and his choice to end his life in that manner. I understand fully that it was a selfish act on his part, but you folks are being selfish in return. I hope some clarity about the incident comes to you.

      • Agree with you and Mike here for sure. While I wasn’t there to witness this “horrific” event, I can think of a lot of things worse to see than some random guy jumping into a fire. I in fact used to be a part time firefighter and we saw some pretty horrific things weekly and while it was never a good thing, that was just part of the job. And those people didn’t even want to be like that, usually. Think of people in Afghanistan that see their best buddies get blown up next to them out of no where. Like sunflower down there said, maybe it’s something he wanted to do for a while and just went for it. Sorry that you all that witnessed it have to deal with the ‘horror’, but I think you’ll live. <see what I did there. RIP Fire Guy.

    • Burners don’t like people who crash their good times. They are so far into the don’t-interfere-with-me mindset, that they can actually vilify anyone who harshes their vibe, even a dead man.

      • Well said Penna. Despite all the tedious platitudes about how important community is, individual burners tend to be some of the most selfish, inconsiderate & narcissistic folks you’ll ever meet. I’m going to interpret his suicide as the ultimate protest against this massive hypocrisy.
        Here’s a dude who’s really fucked up, and nobody in the “community” noticed until he killed himself. And then it was only to complain about how it inconvenienced themselves. Such indifference to suffering is truly offensive.

        The masters of Groovey Ruining would like to address the public:

        • Yeah because being traumatically scarred for the rest of your life with PTSD after watching a man’s body melt away is nothing more than an “inconvenience.”

          • You want to talk PTSD? Back in the 80s I was an “adviser” in a Central American nation. I was, at the time, a 19 year old Ranger whose Spanish was limited to “uno cervases, por favor.” My job was to kill communists.

            One fine day, a mixed patrol of Americans and locals find a FSLN assembly area. We call in artillery. Host nation screws it up. I dive for cover, end up in a pit used by the bad guys as a dump pit for bodies. I spent 15 goddamn minutes in a pit filled with putrid corpses, maggots, and rats.

            As a result, I hate being touched. Skin to skin contact triggers me something fierce.

            Fast forward. My wife is a Burner, and I take the train to Reno to meet her. After being appalled at the condition of my truck, we go to our favorite casino resort. We go down to the hot tub, which is filled with Burners. All is cool until one zombified jerk insists on hugging me. I spend the rest of the day screaming and crying in the shower, trying to get the maggots off.

            Yes, some Burners are selfish, inconsiderate & narcissistic jerks. And you won’t know you have PTSD until weeks or months after the event. Right now, you’re shocked. Seek help now.

  62. methinks ts a reflection on societal ills. and theres most likely a statistic /average in direct relation to population. Lets get involved. PLUR . Care if you see someone get down or go down or about to go down at any event question detail divert.. so many random folks showing up many feel like they are home when at BM or Rainbow and when they go they want out on a high note.. I do understand. When suicidal its irrational I have been there and acted on it. Plus years later had allergic reaction to a medication and one minute in a perfect mood two doses later suicidal ideation an MD friend who noticed the change and directed to ER.. Was just at local moontribe event in Colorado tons of negative energy amongst the good.. knife drawn accusations and a person picking fights with innocents. ppll are dramafied more these days in general. Also the loving caring family are radiating immensely and becoming ennumbered.. please be selective about who you invite and when.if forgoing an event to help someone get help is in order do it pick the higher path..God Goddess love and light..

  63. It sounds like maybe this is something he wanted to do and just went for it. I feel our view of suicide can be skewed but if he felt so compelled to join the light of the fire… Maybe it was he time to ascend to another realm of existence. The death experience is the a release of your energy back into the universe! He rose with the fire.

    • This is one interesting perspective, but I’m pretty sure if someone said to me at this event, “hey try this new drug I just made in my kitchen. I learned how to make it on youtube” I would walk away. Still his choice either way.

    • I’m sorry, have you not been to burning man? I’ve talked to cops on acid probably 15 times on playa.

          • I believe Chris was overcome with the feelings of Joy that led him into the flame – not feelings of pain. think how much that changes things.

            For all those traumatized by the incident – use it to celebrate life and its fragility. Chris’ death can challenge us to look within at who we are, where we are going and what we strive to be.

            Lets celebrate his memory as one of us…a son, a lover, a friend…let’s live our lives to the best of our ability…

            ashes to ashes – dust to dust…It will one day be you.

            Chris did not die in vain. we will carry him with us to the end

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