Friday, August 31, 2007

First suicide at Burning Man; friends thought it was performance

"His friends thought he was doing an art piece," he said.

For the first time in 21 years of Burning Man, a Burner has committed suicide, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

A man was found hanging inside a two-story-high tent this morning, said the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the festival on the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. The man's identity has not been released pending notification of his family.

He dangled for two hours before anyone in the big tent thought to bring him down, said Mark Pirtle, special agent in charge.

"His friends thought he was doing an art piece," he said.

So far, an estimated 36,000 people have arrived at the gathering, with 46,000 expected by the time things end Saturday with the burning of a 40-foot-tall wooden man. Earlier this week, a participant set the structure ablaze and was charged with arson. Burning Man organizers say the man will be rebuilt in time for the official burn.

(Photo of workers assessing arson damage to "the Man" by Brad Horn of the Nevada Appeal, via AP)

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