Sociopolitical contexts of self-immolations in Vietnam and South Korea

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This article explores common political and social-psychological factors involved in acts of self-immolation that took place in Vietnam and South Korea in the later part of the 20th century. Drawing upon the pioneering work of Emile Durkheim, the author identifies some key analytical distinctions between altruistic suicide and cases of self-immolation. On the basis of suicide notes, diaries, and letters left behind by 22 self-immolators, the author sheds light on the intentions and beliefs of those actors and social significance of their acts. In addition to the unique geo-political circumstances of the Cold War era, under which massive numbers of dramatic public acts of self-immolation took place, the symbolic message imbedded in the acts of self-immolators is explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-97
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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