Wal-Mart Worker Burns Self To Death Outside Store

Via Chicagobreakingnews:

A 58-year-old Wal-Mart employee who said he “couldn’t take it anymore” lit himself on fire outside the Bloomingdale store where he worked late Thursday night and was later pronounced dead at a hospital, authorities said this morning.

At least 10 people witnessed the suicide and several attempted to help the man by throwing their coats on top of him in an effort to put out the flames, he said.

“He said he didn’t want any help and threw the coats off,” Sater said.

I wonder if we’ll ever know what it was he couldn’t take.

Wal-Mart worker burns self to death in parking lot [Chicagobreakingnews] (Thanks to Jason!) (Photo: kelly zen)


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  1. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    My sympathies to any family and friends of the deceased.

    I would have thought that the pain would be too great to reject help while you’re on fire, even if you did it on purpose.

    • Gokuhouse says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: Same here, one of my biggest fears is to die painfully…That would probably hurt too much for me to reject any help.

    • PixiePerson says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: I would imagine that, being older, he may have been protesting Wal-Mart and the treatment he got there. Setting yourself on fire was a somewhat popular form of protest during the communist era in Eastern/Central Europe.

      Allowing someone to put you out defeats the point.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @PixiePerson: I get that anyone trying to kill themselves isn’t looking for help. It’s just hard to imagine being in that kind of pain and still being able to reject the help.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @Rectilinear Propagation: @karmaghost:

          Exactly, the MD in the family has always said, somewhat jokingly, that if you burn yourself on the stove and it hurts like hell, then you might as well put your hand back on the burner and make it a 3rd degree!

          I was in a car accident in college and got severe burns on my lower legs…the burns were one thing, but skin grafting et al., for the first few minutes, would hurt like hell…after that, the adrenaline or whatever kick in and it’s much more tolerable. I’m guessing that after a minute or so, the WM worker was on an endorphin high.

    • karmaghost says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: I’m no expert and there is no doubt that burning to death is a terrible way to die. I think there is a point at which 3rd degree burns are not painful because at that point your nerve endings are completely destroyed. Of course, you have to go through 1st and 2nd degree burns first. Then there’s the suffocation as the flames use up all the oxygen in your lungs…

      • huadpe says:

        @karmaghost: Yeah, I would also add that at that level of burns, you’re going to release a flood of chemicals into your brain to prevent you from feeling it.

    • trujunglist says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation:

      Or maybe he was just already in so much pain from a life of complete shit that, compared to everything else, the fire was just part of a minor inconvenience.

  2. chris_l says:

    I’d guess it has something to do with being 58 years old and working at Wal-Mart. When your life is that much in the shitter, I certainly can’t blame someone for suicidal tendencies.

    • Yossarian says:

      @chris_l: I’d guess it has to do with issues far beyond his employer but, hey, why pass on the chance to take a jab at Wal-Mart, what with their rounding people up and forcing them to work there and all.

      • ARP says:

        @Yossarian: That’s not (entirely) it. It could have been Target, Home Depot, etc. It’s the concept that people in low paying jobs struggle to get by and it can have profound affects on them over time. Simply, getting a better job isn’t always an option or even possible if you have to work multiple jobs to just get by. Combine that with the increasing attitude that wealth= self-worth and you can expect to see this more. Maybe not in such a spectacular fashion, but in quiet desperation, where newspapers and TV’s may never reach.

        • Yossarian says:

          @ARP: Where do you find the evidence that this was about his job? Supposition =/= evidence.

          • dragonfire81 says:

            @Yossarian: Exactly. It’s fun to say, “the guy obviously killed himself because working at wal-mart sucks so much and he’d had it with all the corporate BS and stupid customers” but him saying he couldn’t take it anymore seems to me to indicate a far more serious problem.

            Maybe he has a pending divorce, perhaps he’s about to lose his home, maybe he has suffered through some personal tragedies (death of a loved one), etc.

            I know from experience working at Wal-mart does suck, but there’s plenty of older people who work there and, despite the stress, never become suicidal.

            • Elcheecho says:

              @dragonfire81: the guy set fire to himself in front of his employer. it’s a fair bet he couldn’t take working for them. this is not prejudice or unfair judgment but common sense and reasoning. If you leave a flaming pile of poo in front of your neighbor’s place, no one’s gonna think you did it because you your car broke down on the interstate.

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @chris_l: For all we know, the guy could have been a manager or something. Not everyone who works at Walmart is a 7.50/hr greeter.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @BuddyGuyMontag: Plus the fact that Wal-Mart pays more than minimum wage anyway…that’s why they’re always in favor of a higher minimum wage – they know it won’t affect their payroll, but it’ll put more $$ in the pockets of a large customer base.

    • rpm773 says:

      @chris_l: I know a few people who are around that age and, as they are out of work, are worse off vis-a-vis the context of your comments. I wouldn’t say their life is in the “shitter”, and I wouldn’t expect them to kill themselves.

    • Claytons says:

      @dragonfire81, @Yossarian: Fair. It’s not unreasonable to expect that there’s any number of factors in any given suicide, but when you think about the possibility of family trouble, money trouble, the threat of foreclosure, and then juxtapose those on the backdrop of being 58 and employed at Wal-Mart, well, yeah, then it becomes evident why it’s not unreasonable at all to think his notoriously bad employer made contributions to the motivations behind suicidal actions. Maybe it’s pointless speculation, the guy’s dead, but it’s not unreasonable.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @chris_l: Yes…with unemployment at record highs, this guy was a moron for not leaving a stable job from an employer that’s not going under anytime soon.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: There could be any number of reasons he chose to light himself on fire in front of the store instead of say, his own backyard, but the fact he did it there is still not conclusive enough to say his feelings about his job and/or employer were a major factor.

  3. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    How sad for his family.

  4. ElizabethD says:

    Poor man. Depression is a terrible disease — probably one we can’t blame on Wal*Mart.

    • ARP says:

      I can’t believe he threw the coats off of him while being in that much pain. His will to die seems to have been much greater than many of us can fathom.

      Sympathies to him, friends and family.

      @ElizabethD: No, can’t blame Wal-Mart. Depression is a horrible problem and he might have done the same if he was a CEO. But his working there may be a bit symbolic of how many workers are treated in this country and that it does impact your psychological state over time.

      • chrisjames says:

        @ARP: If he was burning to the point that it was life threatening, it was likely bad enough that he didn’t feel much pain at all. Whatever despair (or perhaps mania) he was feeling could have overrided any sense of pain or fear. That’s… not exactly comforting, but better to know that it’s possible he didn’t suffer much from the burns.

      • HogwartsAlum says:


        People who are determined enough to do that will do it no matter how much it hurts.

        And he could have done it outside his work because that was the only place he could think of to go. Sometimes people commit suicide publicly and it has nothing to do with where or how they choose it (ex: suicide by cop doesn’t necessarily mean that you hate cops). It could only mean that he wanted everyone to know how much pain he was in, because maybe no one he might have talked to was really listening or realized he was serious.

  5. bohemian says:

    I would think working at Walmart at 58, probably not having any retirement saved up, and the stress of trying to live on less than a living wage just all piled on the guy. Too many factors of our culture are really abusive to people for not having enough money.

    If you can’t pay your medical bills it is your fault for not being rich enough. Second job to try to pay those bills and still can’t come up with 1/4 mil? Too bad that is still your fault and your considered a bad person.

    Didn’t save up for retirement because you spent your entire life working a series of low paying jobs that lacked any benefits you could bank on? Your fault too. People are told they are bad people for not planning their retirement. Never mind that people working at Walmart are barely able to meet their basic day to day needs.

    Housing is expensive, food is expensive, transit is difficult in many areas. Medical is beyond the reach of many people. Instead of trying to fix these things, people get randomly blamed personally for the crappy situation in the country.

    • Wormfather is Wormfather says:

      @bohemian: Wow, just wow. I’m a republican and I support this message.


      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @Wormfather is Wormfather: @bohemian:

        Seriously?? So all the friendly greeters at the store are broke? Less than a living wage? They pay more than minimum wage – more than many many other places. The “less than a living wage” = they still make more in a day than many people in the world make in a MONTH. Our culture allows anyone to do anything if they put their mind to it – it’s not abusive to people who don’t have enough money, it’s realistic…

        If you can’t pay your medical bills, in all honesty, yes, it is one’s fault. Hate to break it to everyone…but there’s a finite amount of medical professionals, hospital space, equipment, etc available. How do we decide who gets the quarter million dollar procedure which takes more resources than an average person outputs in 5 years, and who doesn’t? Should we have patients draw straws? No…supply and demand, plain and simple. While a home and car and all that are nice, they’re not essential. Sell them if you have to..and if it comes to the point that one dies because they couldn’t afford a certain procedure or treatment – as sad as that is – it also means that there’s now an extra slot at the OR or an extra room at the ICU that can be used by someone who, for example, trained for years to become an airline pilot, and can afford treatment because he contributed significantly to society.

        Should Octo-mom get unlimited health care while a successful businesswoman who saved her money instead of spending it on lip/nose jobs and IVF has a baby in the parking lot simply because she was first in line?

        If someone is that desperate for cash, they can add $2,000 to their annual income by simply donating plasma…an example of a win/win.

        Go to Canada some time (worked for Diamond in London, ON for several years)…it’s not all peachy…it’s nice to have coverage, sure, but quite a few Canadians come here because doctors there are overbooked and PA’s aren’t anywhere to be found.

        Housing is expensive because it takes the work of others to construct – quite a bit. Food is expensive in some cases, but when someone like Wal-Mart offers it for an affordable cost, people jump on them for undercutting everyone else through efficient use of resources.

        Didn’t save up for retirement? Yes, it is your fault…..if everyone was given a golden ticket, what motivation would I have had to go through 7 years of higher education, and work my way progressively up the ladder, while making many sacrifices along the way?

        I know this all sounds harsh, but my family (dad was born to a peon-status member of the army in India…), our CEO, people like Obama, and countless others were able to go from rags to a comfortable life..so I have little sympathy for people that live beyond their means without adjusting either their spending habits (as people like Tracy on Consumerist have) or working harder.


        • Wormfather is Wormfather says:

          @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: I am so glad that I came back right now to show my wife the original comment in this thread.

          Listen dude, the reason there’s a finite amount of resources in healthcare is because the insurance companies have made it that way that and our healthcare system is completly in shambles. If just about everyone in europe can be treated for cancer and not have not be dead broke/in so much debt only life insurance can save them, then so can we.

          I’d love to get into the finer points of my previous comment, but I really want to reply to this, ass hole…

          and if it comes to the point that one dies because they couldn’t afford a certain procedure or treatment – as sad as that is – it also means that there’s now an extra slot at the OR or an extra room at the ICU that can be used by someone who, for example, trained for years to become an airline pilot, and can afford treatment because he contributed significantly to society.

          What kind of society do we live in when the decicions on life are death are made based on who’s worth more. These arnt job’s we’re talking about these are actual human lives. “Sorry you’ve got to die now because there’s a millionare ready for treatment.” You sicken me, these are choices we dont have to make, healthcare can be provided to all.

          Just as in this country we all have a right to an education, regardless of financial position, we all have a right to live and to seek and receive treatment.

          Also, the octi-mom, yeah, those kids should get the healthcare they deserve as they are living souls, but the mom, yeah, she should be punished.

          With all that said, I’d like you to go DIAF now, kthnx.

    • mindshadow says:

      @bohemian: Man, what a statement. I approve.

    • RodAox says:

      @bohemian: Well Put. I do applaud you sir…..

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @bohemian: I couldn’t possibly agree more!

    • MrEvil says:

      @bohemian: I don’t think anyone could have said it better.

    • trujunglist says:


      What you consider “average” is actually completely fucked up. You think that people with depression are fucking lunatics or something? They belong in an asylum? Wake up man. Look at the person to your left. Now, the one to your right. According to you, both of those people are mentally inadequate and could flip out at any given time.
      There is a rational explanation: he was incredibly depressed because his life was complete shit. That’s why you say “I can’t take it anymore”. You’re the type of guy that asks “take what?” while the rest of us are like “yeah, we know.”

  6. Spencer Cunningham says:

    I sympathize with this man and his family. And as a former walmart employee of just over 3 years, I can understand completely why he went into that state of a deep depression.

    • bmorg003 says:

      @Spencer Cunningham: I’m with you 100%, I worked overnight grocery for 2-3 years while getting through school, and if I didn’t have that light at the end of the tunnel… It’s probably a little difficult for those who never worked there to understand, but boy do I have stories about working a my local Walmart.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @Spencer Cunningham: Yeah…I’d be bummed if I had job security and a job that payed above minimum wage too..

      • Zorantor says:

        @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: I wouldn’t call a Wal-Mart position “job security”.

      • bmorg003 says:

        @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: Thank you for illustrating my point. As I said earlier, if you’d worked there (especially as a worker and not one of the army of lower-level management CSMs who can never be found when you need them), then you would understand… and if you’re really curious (and possibly a masochist), by all means submit your application and find out…

  7. Saboth says:

    Man, what a way to go. Sorta slow and probably the most painful way to commit suicide.

    • MichaÅ‚ Borsuk says:


      But he made it to the news. It could make a little difference. Maybe the “Land of Rape and Honey” will finally introduce some modern social discoveries, such as obligatory retirement plan and health care.

      Wish you good luck with that.

    • Triterion says:

      @Saboth: I know right? There’s no tall buildings where he lives? I thought only Monks had the balls to go out on fire!

  8. idip says:

    I’d bet it’d be a mix between financial problems and work.

    It’s not fun working retail. In fact, it’s my version of hell.

    Not sure about anyone else, but it get’s tiring hearing people yell at you over something you have no control over. It will drive you over the edge, just have to find that breaking point.

    This is why I say everyone should work at retail, so you don’t get the college graduates (no joke) that go, “What do you mean your sold out!?!?!?!?!”

    “Well, sir, that sale started on sunday, it’s now Friday… we’ve sold the stock that we received”


    *facepalm* apparently college education does not transfer to common sense. Sale… = selling products in stock = no more product in stock.

    Anyway, I feel bad for this guy. Sigh.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @idip: I respect you for not just saying “rah rah rah Wal-Mart sucks” but giving examples of how working in retail gets to a person.

      Working for an airline and seeing certain types of pax day in and day out, I definitely have a profound respect for anyone in front line customer service!

  9. The_IT_Crone says:

    Retail is an INCREDIBLY abusive job field. I’d imagine Wall-Mart is probably worse than most.

    So dealing with a workplace that doesn’t care about you and doesn’t pay jack, customers that are jerks, the possibility of no retirement and no end in sight… yeah I can see it.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @The_IT_Crone: Yes, it is. I worked there when I had to. I was out of work (thanks tech market crash!) and had to have money. I can understand reaching that level of frustration working there. If he was suffering from depression on any other mental illness then he probably couldn’t afford to seek medical care. :( How horrible for his family and friends.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @Red-headed bookworm: Yes, it was tough…but aren’t you thankful that the retail job existed? Without it, who knows where you could have gotten income from…right? It was obviously a much better alternative vs. other job opportunities….

    • kmw2 says:

      @The_IT_Crone: Yeah. I was young, healthy, and not yet in a position to care about my lack of retirement savings the last time I worked retail, and I still left two days out of three in tears. It’s not that bad everywhere, but pretending that his job had nothing to do with it is as likely to be wrong as claiming it’s all Wal-mart’s fault.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @The_IT_Crone: Retail is only getting worse as the economy is getting worse. People don’t want to take their frustrations out on friends and family so when they get fed up in a retail store they take it out on the random retail store worker. It might only take raising a price by 30 cents to set someone off, it really doesn’t take much. You have the emotions of being in a bad economy and possibly family trouble and lots of money trouble, foreclosure along with the problems they face when they are shopping, and sometimes it just comes to a boiling point.

      Being a cashier in these times is quite an abusive job because you have to take all the crap that customers give you and your often the first person that customers come into contact with in the store, so all those frustrations get let out on the cashier, even if nothing is their fault. Not to mention its one of the lowest paying jobs, and it really is a very hard job to stand mentally. Imagine being a cashier and having all these people come through who can’t afford to buy what they are actually buying, all the sad faces paying for groceries that they cannot afford with a credit card. Its really a very, very thankless job. People are going to argue with you about the price of an item, people are going to expect you to be able to automatically lower the price of an item just for them, people will try to scam you into lowering the price of an item, and people will complain, complain and complain to you that the prices are just too high. Customers almost NEVER walk away from a cashier station happy, especially in Walmart.

      I did work retail for a while, and it was very depressing to have to run credit cards through 3 or 4 times and then telling the person they can’t purchase their stuff because none of the cards will go through after they hand you 5 cards and tell you to take whichever one works. Mind you I was young, healthy and the economy was not this bad during the time I worked retail, so I can only imagine that retail workers are facing the problems I faced times 100 or 1000 while working the register.

  10. Courteous_Gentleman says:

    This is sickening, but really has nothing to do with Wal-Mart that we know of.

    • Erwos says:

      @Courteous_Gentleman: Exactly. This is a clear cut case of biased reporting – the blog post author is trying to create a much deeper connection than any facts would actually point to.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        This is a clear cut case of biased reporting

        @Erwos: Oh, it is not. Stating the location an event occurred at is not biased.

        • chrisjames says:

          @Rectilinear Propagation: It is on a site called The Consumerist, owned by Consumer Reports, and reporting on consumer issues. Unless you can describe how this is consumer related in a meaningful way, then being in a medium based on a certain perspective instills this with implication and bias. It’s okay to try and make connections where there are none apparent, but we should all be honest about it. Can we at least agree that this is only conjecture that the incident was related to his employment at Walmart, and that’s why it’s posted on The Consumerist?

          What gets me is that everyone seems to think there was a rational explanation for the behavior, and is trying to ferret that out before full details are released. People with mental problems do not rationalize their actions like the average person does. People who set themselves on fire in public areas… there’s a chance they have such mental problems.

      • kmw2 says:

        @Erwos: How is it biased? Should they have stated that he immolated himself in front of an Unnamed Large Discount Retailer instead?

    • Emperor_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @Courteous_Gentleman: You’re right. There’s no connection that a Wal-Mart worker self-immolated himself in front of the store he worked at. I mean, it’s not like it was pre-meditated or anything.
      I’m sure he was having another great day at work, but when he was checking out saw that Lindsy Lohan is hanging out with a crazy people again, and decided that even though he was happy with everything else, this was just too much. As he walked outside despondent, he came across one of those gas cans you always find full just sitting around everywhere. So he only THEN decided to pour it over himself, and light it using the lighters/matches that are always attached to the full gas cans that the gnomes leave around. Damn you US Weekly!

  11. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    My uncle works at a Wal-Mart as a greeter. He owned over 50 convenience stores and probably has $5 million in the bank. But he lives in a small town, is widowed, and got lonely. So don’t assume everyone’s life is in the shitter. Besides, you might be sporting one of those orange and blue blazers sooner than you know it. Starbuck’s doesn’t need that many baristas.

    • pb5000 says:

      @johnfrombrooklyn: Your uncle sounds like a cool guy!

      • perruptor says:

        @pb5000: He’s a cool guy because he is working at a job he doesn’t need, thus preventing someone who does need that highly-desirable Wal-Mart job from getting it?

        • chrisjames says:

          @perruptor: He’s a cool guy because he was and still is an active and productive member of society. Everyone, regardless of need, deserves an equal chance to seek what they want in life.

          • quizmasterchris says:

            @chrisjames: Wal-Mart greeting isn’t really “productive” is it?

            Not in the sense of stocking shelves or cash register operation, etc.

            In fact none of those jobs would be as satisfying as something that would feel productive – a skilled trade, repair, creative white collar work, teaching, etc etc… that’s part of the problem with these jobs. No sense of worth in what is done and not enough money or benefits. It’s enough to depress anyone.

            • chrisjames says:

              @quizmasterchris: Walmart might disagree that it’s not productive, since they hire more than a few greeters, and have been hiring greeters for some time.

              It supposedly makes people feel welcome and personable with the employees, keeping them coming back to the store or maybe buying more on their visit. Some greeters hand out coupons. As the store’s business increases, they earn more money to invest in their business. Opening new stores, stocking more or better product, hiring more people, increasing selection, etc. This spending goes not just towards the myriad employees they can keep on hand and hire anew (the socialist benefit), but also towards the distributors and manufacturers that have a place to sell their product (the capitalist benefit). I could go on and on, but couldn’t I really just say that he’s being far more productive being paid to say “hi” to people than sitting at home, alone? Or really, why begrudge the job in the first place?

              I say “supposedly,” because I feel hassled by greeters, but I’m always in a rush and more than a bit anti-social.

            • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

              @quizmasterchris: Since he said that his uncle was lonely, then being a greeter is exactly the kind of “productive” he wanted.. Getting to talk to everyone that walks in the door can be just what he wanted to do.. Some of them are really good at it and it gives you a special since of self worth if you feel like you’ve brightened atleast someone’s day that day.

              I’m always nice to the greeters at Wal*Mart.. You’d be suprised what good can come of being a kind person.

            • BodeMiller says:


              I believe the greeters are also the ones who put the stickers on return items to designate that you brought them in with you. They also get the lines of carts ready so when you walk in there is a cart ready to grab and go rather than having to extricate one from the corral area. It speeds up your entry.

              This is as necessary and as “productive” as what the cashiers and stockers do, is it not?

        • pb5000 says:


          Fortunately we live in a society where someone doesn’t determine our needs for us.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @perruptor: So you’re protesting the fact that his uncle is a productive member of society? It’s not like he’s using his $5 million to elevate his mattress…he’s either investing it = allowing another business to exist or leaving it in the bank = more money that the bank can lend to people who need to finance stuff.

          • perruptor says:

            @ComcastRedwoodFlyer: “So you’re protesting the fact that his uncle is a productive member of society?

            Of course not. I’m making note of the fact that he, a wealthy individual who does not need to work, is occupying a paid unskilled position, thereby displacing someone far less well-off. Mr. $5M can be equally productive, or even more productive, doing volunteer work where there are no unskilled workers trying to earn a living.

    • Saboth says:


      That reminds me of a guy at work. He doesn’t actually work for our company, but he comes by and does small projects…changes out light bulbs, air filters, etc. Reminds me of Jonathan Winters…always going around telling jokes, doing impersonations and throwing his voice. Very ingenious guy that is definitely a jack of all trades. Also turns out he is a retired millionaire.

    • wgrune says:


      Thank you. Maybe he really liked his job and wasn’t dirt poor with no retirement like the conclusion everyone is jumping too. It could have have been any number of things that set him off and people need to quit assuming things.

  12. samson says:

    There is no humor here.
    He was making a point.
    The problem with suicide is you cant explain what you meant.
    Leave a note. Who reads it. Not your boss.

    • Ghede says:

      @BLANDspace: Oh, there is some humor there. It is an extremely dark humor. Don’t knock it either, some people need that to deal with the world. It isn’t meant as a sign of disrespect.

      The fact that he threw off the coats is pretty horrifying though. He was in agony and still wanted to burn.

  13. dl33124 says:

    wallmart,,suicide made in china!

  14. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    I did have a joke (“did they ask to see the receipt of the matches he used?”) but in all seriousness, I really don’t see how this is a consumer issue. The man was obviously depressed, and unless there’s more to this story that the working conditions at Walmart led to him doing this, I’m not sure how I see the consumerist connection.

    I’d expect this from Carey, but not from Ben. Slow news day?

    • quizmasterchris says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: So you’ve decided that not only is this not connected to Wal-Mart despite all evidence to the contrary, but that no attempt should be made to find out if is even though you admit that would very much make it relevant? Wow.

      I don’t get how so many of the posters on this site have no conception whatever of how employment issues are directly connected to consumer issues. This is the one society in the Western world in which any sense of solidarity with other workers has been lobotomized from the general public, and it kills us.

      • HogwartsAlum says:


        It’s only connected to Walmart THAT WE KNOW OF because he worked there.

        Suicidal depression causes people to see no way out, and they can’t see any good that IS in their lives. Most healthy people who work at a sucky job and have other stuff in their lives that is going well can handle the sucky job stress. Someone who is not may not be able to handle any stres. Anything that happens outside of that or on top of it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

        I know this because I’ve been through it.

    • karmaghost says:

      @BuddyGuyMontag: I disagree, I think it is a big consumer issue. Think of all the consumers that witnessed this.

      More seriously, though, who says that every article on the Consumerist has to be strictly related to issues that directly affect consumers? I think that this article contributes to a greater collection of posts and articles and stories about Wal-Mart as a company and source of consumer goods and services.

  15. Truthie says:

    I think this post is a bit inappropriate. Clearly this person had severe emotional/psychiatric issues, and a death in this manner must be absolutely horrific for both the deceased and his family.

    It does not seem appropriate to use this tragedy as the basis for a joke or as a platform for discussion of working conditions at Wal-Mart.

    • hi says:

      @truthie: I feel for the guy but he clearly wanted to make a point by setting himself on fire outside this Walmart. Not looking into the issue of WHY he set himself on fire, and why he choose to do it at his workplace would be inappropriate. This needs to be investigated.

    • Farquar says:

      @truthie: I’m with Truthie here. I really don’t think, with the information currently available, that this has any place on Consumerist. If more information were available that indicated working conditions at this Wal-Mart were involved, maybe. Right now its just assumption, and its sad.

      This isn’t just some random hack blog. This is Consumerist, a Consumer Reports blog. I’d expect some random blog to post this stuff just to try to stir things up and get eyeballs. Consumerist should be better than that.

  16. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Considering that he did this in front of Wal Mart and that immolation is used as a form of protest (like the monks demanding Tibet’s religious freedom), perhaps he was trying to make a socio-economic statement?

  17. Blueskylaw says:

    Self immolation is an extreme way to make a statement.

    The man must have been in terrible pain physically, mentally, and spiritually.

    My sympathies go to his family.

  18. Truthie says:

    Further, Ben I think you really should think about whether you should continue to make posts like this now that you’re part of Consumers Union. An edgy style is one thing, but I’m not sure you want to associate Consumers Union – which has had a pretty good reputation for a long time – with low blows like this.

    If you want to make a point about Wal-Mart, there are much more relevant and appropriate ways to do it. It’s not like there are any shortage of stories and anecdotes about Wal-Mart, so why dwell on this?

    • hi says:

      @truthie: Right… nothing to see here, move along. Give me a break. What are you trying to hide truthie?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @truthie: Shouldn’t that be up to Consumer’s Union? If they have a problem with this I’m sure they’ll say so.

    • quizmasterchris says:

      @truthie: What’s the low blow, and how is one item ‘dwelling?’

      Why the need to protect Wal-Mart? That’s your second post doing just that – why are you ‘dwelling’ on that?

      • RedwoodFlyer says:


        Why the need to defame WM? It’s your millionth post doing just that…why are you ‘dwelling’ on that?

        Not sure about truthie but I keep defending WM because they’re a victim union propaganda, just like Eastern Airlines was. When they came into the small Iowa town I was in, the town grew overnight, because people are more likely to move to a town that doesn’t require 6 stores to accomplish basic shopping tasks (while costing twice as much).

    • Truthie says:

      @truthie: I am not trying to “protect” Wal-mart in my post – I said that if one wants to address the very real issues of working conditions at Wal-mart there are already many other news stories and personal stories one can use to do so.

      What I have an objection to is using what is at a minimum a personal tragedy as a platform for criticizing a company.

      At this point we have no idea why this person did what he did. It may have been due to something Walmart did, or it could just be that he did it after work or something and his reason was unrelated.

      I think it’s highly disrespectful to his family to use him in this way in the absence of some information showing he was doing this as some sort of protest.

      And as for my comment about Consumers Union, it is an organization that has spent 100 years doing in-depth testing and taking pains to ensure it is perceived as thorough and unbiased. A blog post with innuendo about a suicide victim doesn’t seem to fit with that image.

      And by the way, I have these feelings as someone who has had to deal with the suicide of a family member. It is a horrific experience, and those of you who can only see this in terms of how this reflects on Wal-mart are being somewhat insensitive to the situation the family is facing.

      If this tragedy is due to Wal-mart’s actions, then it is this poor guy’s family who should be speaking for him, and no one else.

    • Saboth says:


      I’d say it is news, and I don’t see them making a statement. Where is there a “low blow”? Sure it may not be consumer related, but it is simply a news story, they didn’t say anything in the consumerist about “I bet he was fed up with his walmart job”.

  19. Emperor_GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Everyone. I don’t pretend to know much about suicide, but normally when you commit suicide/make a “statement”/do something crazy, you do it at or around the place that is troubling you. People rarely go on a killing spree at the Supermarket, when they have a real problem w/the Post Office. I’m just saying. There has to be a “tipping” point, and I’m guessing being at the place that is troubling you focuses you on that trouble, and “tips” you.

    • Bungus Aurelius says:

      @Emperor_GitEmSteveDave: “Normally when you commit suicide… you do it at or around the place that is troubling you.” Really? That guy in California a few weeks ago who drove around in his Bentley before shooting himself. Was he troubled by his car? People that jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, are they bothered by the bridge? The bay? Cars driving across the bridge? If someone hangs himself from a shower rod, does he hate cleaning up every day? Comparing a suicide to a killing spree doesn’t make any sense. A killing spree when you’re pissed at the Post Office will typically happen at the Post Office because you’re trying to hurt that thing. And while you can make a case that suicide in some ways is a way to give one final hurt to those that have hurt you, at its core it is self-defeating to the extreme and where it occurs will generally turn on opportunity rather than the place that is troubling you.

      For that matter, given all of the frickin’ conjecture in some of these comments, you could also argue that, like johnfrombrooklyn’s uncle above, maybe this was the only place in his life he enjoyed and it was the last place he wanted to view before he died. Do I believe that to be true? No, because I have no information to support it.

      How about people read the original article before making suppositions about a guy’s intentions? Immolation as a form of protest? Then why did he do it in the parking lot of a sporting goods store, instead of in front of Walmart, his employer? Socio-economic hardship and unable to make ends meet? We have no specific data, but according to his son it wasn’t an economic issue. Misery of working retail? He worked there 7 years and first accounts are that he enjoyed his job and was pleasant to be around.

      His suicide may have something – or a lot of things – to do with employment at Walmart. I have no idea, and I haven’t seen anyone else on here post FACTS either way. But the level of supposition going on here is unbelievable.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Emperor_GitEmSteveDave: Actually, there are a lot of cases in which people who feel angry, frustrated and depressed with their life situation has no way of reaching the site or root of that frustration (like getting fired and not having a key to get back in) and if they don’t have access to the target of their frustration, they’ll often take it out on the people around them simply because they need to get it all out. Many restaurant shootings happen this way. Sometimes it’s former employees, and a lot of times it’s not.

      Another very recent case is of the man who killed his entire family and himself because he had lost his job. Certainly his home life may have been a contributing factor to his depression, but it was very obviously the loss of his job that put him over the edge. He was upset, most likely at his employer, but chose to commit his act of violence against his family.

  20. jenakle says:

    “When there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire”

  21. Devidence says:

    I’m sorry guys, but I think this entire post is in incredibly bad taste. It has nothing to do with the central theme of this site. And it allows people to make ridiculous comments such as “Soooo, there’s a job opening at that Wal-mart?”

  22. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Woah. This is america, we don’t normally have people immolating themselves in the street. That’s pretty.. wow, he must’ve been REALLY upset.

  23. cmdrsass says:

    How nice of Consumerist to take the sad event of a man’s suicide as an opportunity to take jabs at Walmart.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @cmdrsass: Please point out where the OP takes any jabs at Wal-mart.

      I don’t see any instructions from Consumerist for people to act like jerks in the comments.

      • Truthie says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: Given the position of this site on Wal-mart, the statement “I wonder if we’ll ever know what it was he couldn’t take”, and the fact that Ben decided it was worthy of posting in the first place, there is clearly a suggestion that Wal-mart had something to do with this.

        We have no idea if that’s true at this point, and if it is true, it should really be up to his family to decide whether or not to use this tragedy as a platform for advocacy.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          @truthie: Or “I wonder if we’ll ever know what it was he couldn’t take” means “I wonder if we’ll ever know what it was he couldn’t take”.

          Just because there are a lot of bad Wal-mart stories on this site doesn’t mean you have to read something extra into that statement.

          Furthermore, not every story on this site is a ‘company did something bad’ story, not even the ones that occur at Wal-mart. The father and son who threatened a cop did that at a Wal-mart. The story is on Consumerist but that doesn’t imply that Wal-mart told those two to act like idiots.

    • Weirdsmobile says:

      @cmdrsass: Oh crap…I hope we didn’t hurt Walmart’s feelings!

  24. rawtoast says:

    Holy crap, I work a half mile from that Wal-Mart in Carol Stream.

  25. albear says:

    And here is a picture of it,

  26. Pinget says:

    A few years ago I was shopping at Wal Mart when the woman coming down the aisle in the other direction threw her hands up, cried “Why does it have to be so hard?”, abandoned her cart and left. Something about Wal Mart drives people crazy.

    • Weirdsmobile says:

      @Pinget: Walmart really is a crazymaking store. Almost everything about it is subtly dehumanizing, and then that stupid smiley face everywhere makes the whole place into a dystopian satire come to life. I suppose poor people (myself included), some of whom are in truly desperate straits, are drawn to the place because of the low prices, and then they’re subjected to this anti-human environment. I’m frankly surprised more people aren’t broken by the experience.

    • BodeMiller says:


      They have the loudest most garbled PA system EVER, and they are constantly making announcements over it. If I have a headache when I come in there it makes it ten times worse, and if I didn’t have one I get one shortly after arrival.

      I’m totally non-violent by nature but being in that store always makes me want to PUNCH SOMEONE. I try to avoid it whenever possible (the punching and the store.)

  27. menty666 says:

    S, thr’s jb pnng t tht Wl-mrt?

    • Dirk says:

      @menty666: Too soon.

    • ARP says:

      @menty666: MUCH too soon. As in, “you’re a huge D-bag,” too soon.

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @ARP: I highly doubt the guy’s family is trawling Consumerist… Why is this unacceptable to make humor from, yet it’s perfectly ok to joke about the farmer’s daughter, even though she’ll have to live with the trauma for life…

    • menty666 says:

      @menty666: So tomorrow would have been better? He’s dead. I don’t think he’s going to care. He’s 1 out of the ~146,000 people that die every single. 1 out of the 6 billion on the planet, and daily there are approximately 340,000 births to replace him.

      I don’t feel bad for him. I feel good for someone else that can now get a job and feed themselves, their kids, and maybe hold their heads up just a little bit higher for being a contributing member to society.

      • quizmasterchris says:

        @menty666: Dickwad – working at Wal-Mart means you CAN’T make ends meet, despite working.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @quizmasterchris: Considering they pay over minimum wage – more that many other establishments, I don’t think it’s the hell you make it out to be.

          Try talking to the employees sometime, after you take your iBuds out of your ears….many of them genuinely like having a stable job and decent income with access to great rates on group healthcare plans (don’t believe the union lies)…my folks are both MDs and THEY don’t get free healthcare coverage, same with many employees of many companies.

    • Diet-Orange-Soda says:

      @perruptor: That’s like me telling you, “you make too much money so you should find a lower paying job. That money could go to someone unemployed.”

    • S-the-K says:

      @menty666: Wasn’t there a scene in “When Harry Met Sally” about combining the real estate ads with the obituary notices?

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @menty666: *clicks heart next to menty666 for not caving in and apologizing for the sake of paying lip service*

  28. kmw2 says:

    A public immolation isn’t just a suicide, it’s a statement. If all you want is to off yourself, you do it in private where you can retain a little bit of dignity (as well as control your chances of actually killing yourself). The guy clearly had a message, here. What that was, I guess we’ll have to puzzle out for ourselves.

    • Weirdsmobile says:

      @kmw2: Two detectives standing over the dead man’s body, with a gigantic WALMART sign looming in the background.

      “What could possibly have driven this man to kill himself, in this particular spot? What was he trying to say?”

      “I guess we’ll never know.”

  29. Trencher93 says:

    No hope! http://www.radiomissions.org has messages with hope for people with no hope. If he’d listened, he probably wouldn’t have done that.

  30. AgentTuttle says:

    He just didn’t want to live in a world where you have to show your receipt at the door.

  31. probablyawkward says:

    What’s happened to the comments section here? I remember them being ever so slightly more civil.

  32. MissPeacock says:

    I feel awful for this guy’s family, but can you imagine being one of the people who saw it happen? That would be so nightmarish, I can barely stand to think about it.

    • menty666 says:

      @MissPeacock: Definitely. A few years back a friend of mine stepped out onto the train tracks and into the path of a commuter train. While I was sad for the loss of my friend and wondered what lead her to it, I also felt bad for the train engineer that had to deal with the fact he just decapitated someone in the course of simply doing his job. I felt bad for the people on that train that a) were inconvenienced trying to get home to their loved ones, but b) inevitably found out WHY they were inconvenienced.

      • MissPeacock says:

        @menty666: That is *awful*.

      • HogwartsAlum says:


        Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your poor friend.

        I read a book once about the people who, like the train engineer, play an unwitting part in other people’s suicides, or accidentally kill someone through no fault of their own. The incidence of life-threatening, suicidal depression in these people goes WAY up. They need lots of support and help.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:


          Exactly…I would never drink and drive for many reasons, but I always figured that fear of having to live with yourself if you killed another driver would be deterrent enough… but apparently not enough of a deterrent to keep the CEO of US Airways from the ‘ol swig and steer…

  33. Truthie says:

    I’m sorry but even more than the original post some of the comments here are in bad taste.

    Do you all really think jokes about suicide being made in China or committing suicide because of receipt-checking are appropriate? Someone died and left a grieving family behind. I think a little more respect is in order.

  34. Anonymous says:

    tragic. I’d have to guess, that it was the fact that he was working two jobs just wore him down. The man is one of my wifes extended family. He and his wife were at our wedding. We are shocked.

    Horrid way to go, and God help his wife and kids. : /

    • RedwoodFlyer says:


      I’m sure working two jobs at once is tough…but it’s no worse than the MD Residents who work 24 hours straight and have to be mentally alert the whole time, or the pilots who takeoff, fly the plane for 8 hours, then have to sleep on the plane while someone else flies, wake up, and fly for another few hours to land the bird.

  35. MrEvil says:

    I just wonder how far he was from the store when he set himself on fire. If he was close enough to attract attention from inside the store I’m shocked nobody grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher. I know my local wal-marts have fire extinguishers pretty close to the entrances. Then again seeing fire and seeing a person on fire are two differen thing.

    My thoughts are with the man’s family.

  36. savdavid says:

    “Our prayers are with his family…now clean up this mess! and they damn well better not think of claiming any health or life insurance they got through Wal-Mart ‘cuase we will squash them but good!” (SNAP!)

  37. INsano says:

    No quips for this one, it’s powerfully quieting. And it should be.

  38. Con Seannery is apparently an ADMIN... says:

    It was so the ninjas couldn’t catch him…he forgot the fireproof ninja suit.

  39. Steve Walker says:

    I would do the same thing if I worked there…

  40. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    FYI: FoxNews says this guy worked the overnight shift. So unless this WalMart was open 24hours, he either just stocked shelves and cleaned the place and it was a quiet environment.

    He wasn’t laid off either.

    Did you ever think that he wasn’t making a statement – he just lost his mind?

  41. synergy says:

    Lack of dignity, health care and living wages?

  42. jjason82 says:

    If I worked at Wal-Mart then I’d want to kill myself too.

  43. BytheSea says:

    Jiminy christmas…

    They say the ammount of mess you leave behind says how angry you were when you went. I’d say this rates angrier than jumping off a high building with a belly full of pizza and nitro glycerine