Man sets self on fire at Alabama Walmart

by Kim Boateng Posted on May 17th, 2019

Athens, Alabama: A man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire Thursday night at a north Alabama Walmart, police said.

Athens Fire and Rescue responded to a call around 6:41 p.m. Thursday that a man may have covered himself in fuel before setting himself on fire. Responders found the man outside on the northeast side of the Athens Walmart, fire officials said.

Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said bystanders told officers the man doused himself with gasoline, ran into Walmart, came back out into the parking lot and set himself on fire. No bystanders were injured. Four police officers used fire extinguishers from their vehicles to put out the fire.

Responders took the man to Athens-Limestone Hospital’s helipad to await medical transport by helicopter.

The man’s name and age were not immediately known as the investigation was continuing.

Here are warning signs to watch for if you fear someone is suicidal and resources that can help those thinking of harming themselves or who fear a loved one might harm themselves.

Suicide warning signs

Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself.
Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
Talking or writing about death, dying, ”ending the pain” or suicide.
Feeling hopeless.
Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking.
Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out.
Increasing alcohol or drug use.
Withdrawing from friends, family, social support and society.
Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.
Experiencing significant mood changes.
Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge.

Suicide: How to help

Ask the person directly if he or she is having suicidal thoughts, has a plan to do so, and has access to lethal means.
If you think the person might harm him- or herself, do not leave the person alone.
Take seriously all suicide threats and all past suicide attempts, even if he or she minimizes your concerns.
Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
Be willing to listen and be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life or whether suicide is viewed by some as a sinful, selfish or angry act. Respect that suicidal feelings are most likely related to ending emotional or psychological pain.
Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support. Take into account other trusted friends, family members or allies who can be a part of a supportive team.
Don’t dare him or her to do it.
Don’t act shocked. This may translate as criticism or judgment and weaken trust between you.
Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Acknowledge that all suicidal risk is to be taken seriously and firmly and gently explain that you are seeking support.
Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.

Resources in Alabama

Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resource Coalition
Crisis Center, Inc. (Birmingham)
Crisis Services of North Alabama (Huntsville)
Lifelines/Family Counseling Center of Mobile
Sources: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and The Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resource Coalition

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