A student walked into his high school cafeteria on Monday morning and set himself on fire. The student severely burned himself, and a cafeteria worker received minor injuries while trying to put the fire out.
The 16-year-old student walked into Standley Lake High School attempting to commit suicide by setting himself on fire, school officials said. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The entire school was evacuated and closed for the rest of the day.
Two school staffers were able to grab a fire extinguisher and extinguish the fire quickly, Westminster police spokeswoman Cheri Spottke told 7News.
The student’s identity has not been released, but his parents have been notified.
The fire has been put out, but the school will be closed for the rest of Monday and Tuesday. Students will not be allowed to pick up any belongings left behind until Tuesday, according to the school district. Counselors will be on campus all day Tuesday to help students cope with what they witnessed.
An unidentified student who was in the cafeteria at the time of the incident told 7News that she was finishing her homework when the boy set himself on fire and “then chased after them.”
Shelley Chavez, who lives right next door to the school, told the station the incident was heartbreaking.
“My heart breaks for him, for the students that saw it, for his parents, for everybody involved,” Chavez said. “It’s heartbreaking for students to think life is so bad that they need to do that. They’re crying for help somehow. Unfortunately, all of these other students are going to be crying for help because of seeing what they saw.”
Students who take the bus or were dropped off Monday morning were bussed to Wayne Carle Middle School, where they were picked up by their parents.
Families received emergency notification phone calls and emails when the fire occurred.
Authorities are investigating the incident to see if there were threats made prior to Monday’s events. Officers will be looking at social media and interviewing students, Spottke told 7News.
“It’s concerning because we’re seeing more and more of the incidents and you’re never prepared,” Spottke said. “It’s very tragic and it’s always a challenge for law enforcement because it’s always changing. The response from us is always different depending on each situation.”
In another apparent suicide attempt on Monday morning, a 19-year-old freshman at New York University died when he jumped from a 15-story building. That incident also remains under investigation.
Sources: 7News, Metro