Why would anyone want to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire? It must be a horribly slow and hideously painful way to die. Surviving the ordeal would actually worse than dying from it. Nonetheless, people have resorted to self-immolation even in recent history. I still remember when Jan Palach did it in 1969, and when I was in Prague in 1998 I accidently came across the memorial on the very spot where he made his sacrifice. The most famous self-immolator in modern times was the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc. Because the journalist Michael Brown was able to film the whole event and it was flashed around the world it led directly to the fall of the oppressive Diem regime in South Vietnam.
In the last 12 months more than 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire. What on earth would compel someone to take this drastic step? Are they lunatics, raving fanatics or pyrotechnic equivalents of suicide bombers? Are they justified in doing such a thing? Have a look at this balanced and informative explanation of the Tibetan phenomena.