Did You Hear about the Man who Committed Suicide in Front of U.S. Capitol Carrying “Tax the one percent” Sign?

Saturday, April 18, 2015
Scene of the suicide in front of the U.S. Capitol (photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

An Illinois man who killed himself in front of the U.S. Capitol on April 11 was holding a sign that read “Tax the one percent,” according to bystanders.


Leo Thornton, 22, of Lincolnwood, Illinois, had the sign and a brown carry-on bag with him when he shot himself. He had gone missing the day before. His parents told the Chicago Tribune that Thornton had Asperger’s Syndrome.


The building was locked down for a time after the incident, but most visitors later in the day didn’t know what had occurred earlier. “I’m not going to worry about it today,” Karl Sommer, a brain surgeon from West Virginia, told The Washington Post. Anne Marie Stevenson of Fairfax, Virginia, said “I just feel sad, but that’s not going to keep me from going to places.”


Regardless of Thornton’s political views, there was likely another problem involved in the suicide, according to Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “The fact is that millions of Americans believe different political positions, or lose their job, or get bullied, and don’t actually entertain the idea of suicide,” she told the Post. “There must be some underlying mental health and cognitive risk factors at play.”


Nevertheless, Thornton’s death appeared to make no impression on Congressional leaders. On Wednesday the Republican-led House passed a bill that would eliminate the estate tax, a proposal that would, thanks to exemptions already in place, apply only to—you guessed it—the top 1% of estates.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Rhythms of Washington Return After Illinois Man’s Suicide Outside Capitol (by Victoria St. Martin and Michael Laris, Washington Post)

Police: Man Who Shot Himself at Capitol Was From Lincolnwood (Chicago Tribune)

On Tax Day, House Republicans Vote On Handout To The 0.2 Percent (by Bruce Covert, ThinkProgress)


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