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The Daily Illini

UI student sets himself on fire on Krannert rooftop

A 21-year-old male student from Gurnee, Illinois, died in a fire overnight at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The Champaign County Coroner’s Office has yet to release his name.

At 2:47 a.m., the Urbana Fire Department and University Police patrol officers responded to a call at the Krannert Center, according to a University Police report.

Six minutes later, the county’s coroner’s office was called.

“Our initial investigation indicates that this was a suicide,” Champaign Coroner Duane Northrop said. “There was a gas can found near his body. At this time we believe that … he used gasoline to set himself on fire.”

Although the county considers the incident an active death investigation, Northrop said it appears to be an isolated event. There is no ongoing concern for public safety.

“We have not made an official determination as far as cause of death yet. This is still an active death investigation,” Patrick Wade, communications director for the University of Illinois police department, said.

The fatal incident happened in the outdoor amphitheater area of the Krannert Center, which is opened to the public.

“Anyone can go there at any time, so that’s how he (the student) would have been there,” Wade said.   

As for who called to report the incident, Wade said that he is not 100 percent sure.

“The way I saw the report is that our officers responded to it,” Wade said. “So it could have been either someone walking by or in a nearby residence hall who made the call, or it could have been one of our officers that may have been driving by and saw the fire.”

In an autopsy conducted by the Champaign County Coroner, preliminary results revealed that the deceased suffered from inhalation burns to the airway and lungs as a result of the fire. Toxicology results are pending.

“At this point, we don’t have any indications that this is anything other than a suicide,” Northrup said.

Wade said that this all the information available for release at this time.

“We will be releasing further updates as they become available,” Wade said. “I expect to have a few over the next couple days, but for now, the information on our website is all we have.”

This is a developing story.

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13 Comments

  • StudentinDebt

    Disturbing. There are plenty of resources, but I think we need to make McKinley more accessible. The 2-4 week waiting period to see a psychologist is ridiculous.

    • Juan Carlos Gomez II

      This is crazy! Anyone knew the student or why he did it?

    • Yaning Lan

      Agree. From the first time I saw a medical doctor (they forced me to see a medical doctor before I see a psychiatrist) I’ve been waiting for two month to talk to a psychologist. And during these two month my depression got so bad. I almost killed myself today. If I did there would be two suicides happen together.

      • Big T

        Yaning Lan, Go to or call the U of I Police department today. Tell them what you are thinking about. They will get you help. Please. I Care. 217-333-1216.

        • Yaning Lan

          Thanks. Already did.

      • PhD Student

        Hi Yaning, please call the suicide prevention team at 217-333-3704 if you feel like this again. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, I know there are many people who care about you and would be devastated if you did this.
        I’m glad you’ve reached out for help. It will get better.

        • Yaning Lan

          Already did. Thank you.

  • Joseph Jagusah

    So how many suicides occur that a kid has to literally SET HIMSELF ON FIRE before we hear about it?
    There are 44k people on this campus, there should be a lot more deaths than we are hearing about.

    • Adeel Afshar

      “The publicized suicide serves as a trigger, in the absence of protective factors, for the next suicide by a susceptible or suggestible person. This is referred to as suicide contagion.[2] They occasionally spread through a school system, through a community, or in terms of a celebrity suicide wave, nationally. This is called a suicide cluster.[2] Suicide clusters are caused by the social learning of suicide-related behaviors, or “copycat suicides”. Point clusters are clusters of suicides in both time and space, and have been linked to direct social learning from nearby individuals.[3] Mass clusters are clusters of suicides in time but not space, and have been linked to the broadcasting of information concerning celebrity suicides via the mass media.[4]

      To prevent this type of suicide, it is customary in some countries for the media to discourage suicide reports except in special cases.”

      -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_suicide

      -https://www.jstor.org/stable/2094294?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

      -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082110

  • Patrick Wade

    Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the student involved. For anyone struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please know that we care and that there are resources to assist. If you or another campus community member are in need of help, please reach out the Counseling Center at (217) 333-3704 or McKinley Health Center at (217) 333-2701. After 5:00 p.m. and on weekends, counseling is available through the Crisis Line at (217) 359-4141. Anyone in Champaign County can be referred to resources by calling 211, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. If you know someone who is in immediate danger of hurting themselves or someone else, please call 911.