Social Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

How many people die at Burning Man each year?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14533 points ) August 19th, 2009

There’s always a few.

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19 Answers

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I tried to find statistics, but I couldn’t. As far as I could tell, only two people have died at the Burning Man festival.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Not enough. damn hippies

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@eponymoushipster Aw c’mon now. These days, the hippies are in the minority at that event.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eponymoushipster Yeah… Typically, the people that go to Burning Man are a lot weirder than hippies. :P

eponymoushipster's avatar

@DrasticDreamer uberhippies? Hipsterpotomae?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

hipsterpotomae sounds like something that needs to be removed

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The hippies love it for sure.
Hipsters go out there in droves.
Frat boys like going out there do drink ridiculous quantities of beer and camcorders to film naked women and try to hook up.

In any event, there’s no end of people out there that act recklessly without regard for how their actions will affect themselves or others.

AstroChuck's avatar

Well, the big guy for one.

Dog's avatar

Hipsterpotomae. Classic!

aprilsimnel's avatar

When I found out it wasn’t like Hammer Studio’s The Wicker Man, I lost all interest in going.~

drhellno's avatar

I would say 1–5 people a year. There are a number of injuries, sicknesses, accidents and doses, but I think the fatality rate is very small. The year I went, someone on acid walked into the fire. He was rescued alive, but had such severe burns, he wound up dying.

wundayatta's avatar

I found this comment here:

i discussed this with micheal micheal once, who was very proud of the fact that there had never actually been a death “at burningman, during the festival”. his hair splitting involved both those terms, meaning that the motorcyclist who died in ‘96 died after the even was officially over (hours after, but still). other people died after having been medivaced out, or after the event was over from injuries sustained during the event, or on the roads into and out of the event.

made me wonder if the real “spirit of burning man” was just about spinning your justifications…

I found articles saying that a man died playing chicken (motorcycle vs truck) on his way to Burning Man in 1997. A guy committed suicide in 1997. Someone had a heart attack there and died at the hospital in 2005. Another person committed suicide in 2007. I saw mention of two deaths in 2003, but then this comment that puts it in context:

in a populating of 30,000 with U.S. normal distribution you’d expect 7 or 8 people to die in a week. Burning Man is skewed young, so I’d expect a few less, but yeah: 2 deaths in a week in that size population is not bad.

So my guess is that there is generally between one and five deaths per year at Burning Man, even though I could only find reference to one or two deaths in some years, and none in other years.

[Edit: I saw @drhellno‘s response above me only after I posted, but find it interesting that we came up with the same numbers.]

[The story I read about the guy who walked into the fire said that he walked between two fingers of fire in order to throw a photograph of someone he had broken up with in the fire. He stumbled while he was in there, and fell into the fire.]

drhellno's avatar

@daloon Nice. Claiming responsibility is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Plus, anecdotal, and confirmed by no one but rumor. Though if you dig around, a story from 2001 of a man who walked into and/or laid down into the fire and was rescued by some of the members of the Thunderdome camp would probably be corroborated by other burners (as a familiar story, true or untrue) The power of rumor and the aural tradition of BM is something to be considered.

kfingerman's avatar

Burning man used to be a lot more dangerous than it is now. There were a lot of firearms and you were allowed to drive your car around the playa. In 1996, 3 people were killed when a car hit a tent on the open playa. Other than that, it’s a suicide every few years, occasional falls and overdoses. There’s a strong ethic at burning man of “radical self-reliance.” No one is going to take care of you. Don’t run into the fire. Don’t climb a 60 ft sculpture on drugs. Don’t do anything stupid. And if you do, it’s your own ass.

SeventhSense's avatar

@kfingerman
You gotta love what the hippie community idealism has devolved into. Every man for himself sounds less ethical than the warmonger mentality

e_hippie's avatar

Burners are NOT hippies. Please don’t degrade the latter term by using it to refer to the former.

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Don’t question natural selection in process.

Nemesiis's avatar

I was working as an emt in 2002 when a participant at Burning Man was crushed by a trailer being towed by a large art car/bus.
She jumped off the bus and fell backwards in between the bus and the trailer, her skull was completely crushed by the wheels of the trailer. Many participants that witnessed the event had to be removed from the scene and are probably still being treated for PTSD.
This event significantly changed the way “art cars” operate at Burning Man.

People definitely die out there.

Several years ago a man from Colorado hung himself from the rafters of a theme camp called ‘Comfort & Joy’.

And don’t forget the dangerous drive to and from the event. There have been LOTS of deadly accidents on the small desert roads.

When they say “radical self-reliance’ they are NOT kidding!

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