Colorado Boy Said to Self-Immolate in High School Cafeteria

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 27 2014 2:55 PM

Colorado Boy Said to Self-Immolate in High School Cafeteria

Details are still scarce, but a 16-year-old high school student reportedly attempted suicide this morning by setting himself on fire in his school's cafeteria. According to the local ABC affiliate in Denver, the boy suffered severe burns and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was in critical condition this morning.

The outcome would have likely been worse if it weren't for the apparent quick thinking of two school employees who came to the rescue with a fire extinguisher. One of the two suffered a minor injury during the ordeal, according to police.

Students at Standley Lake High School were sent home for the day while authorities and school officials try their best to make sense of the difficult-to-make-sense-of incident, including whether the boy made any threats prior to his apparent self-immolation. Meanwhile, the sad news becomes the latest in a string of school-related trouble in the Denver area in recent weeks. Here's the Associated Press with the helpful albeit depressing roundup:

On Thursday, Columbine High School, where two gunmen killed 13 people in 1999, went on high security alert after receiving a series of threatening phone calls. The alert applied to a half-dozen other schools in the area, in the same school district as Standley Lake, but was lifted the same day.
On Dec. 13, student gunman Karl Pierson, 17, fatally shot Claire Davis, a 17-year-old classmate at Arapahoe High School in Centennial before killing himself in the school's library. Pierson reportedly had threatened a teacher and librarian who had disciplined him last year and allegedly was seeking that teacher when he entered the school, investigators have said. ...
Westminster was home to 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, who was abducted on her way to school and killed in 2012. Austin Sigg, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to a life sentence plus 86 years. Jessica's disappearance put Westminster and neighboring Denver suburbs on edge as police, aided by an army of volunteers, searched for her and then her killer.
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Colorado state lawmakers, meanwhile, are currently considering legislation that would spend about a quarter of a million dollars to keep open a a hotline that students and teachers can use to anonymously report threats and bullying. State officials, according to the AP, say that the hotline has prevented more than two dozen attacks since it opened back in 2004.

Kelly Tunney is a Slate intern in New York City.

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