A Today show suicide scare hit the news yesterday when seventy-something Pak Chong Mar sliced his wrists with a box cutter in front of Rockefeller Plaza where tourists were lined up for the morning's filming. Check out my report for video of the scary scene where police and security officers had to tackle the man to stop him from slashing his arms.
Tourists scattered at the sight of the blade, fearing a replay of the recent Woolwich knife terror attack in London. Although Mar was a lone individual and not a terrorist, he had been spotted ranting about the IRS and handing out flyers shortly before he began to cut himself up -- which caused some people to wonder if his self-harm was a misguided form of political protest.
Pak Chong Mar maintains that he acted to draw attention to corruption in the IRS. New York Daily News reporters interviewed Mar on his hospital gurney at Bellevue Hospital, where they said that he went into a rambling, sometimes incoherent rant against the federal tax authorities:
"I had to do something desperate to fight the corruption, fight the IRS...If I don't do something drastic, sooner or later these guys are going to kill me anyway. I couldn't even pay rent this month."
Depending on what report you believe, Pak Chong Mar is 72 or 76. The Queens resident emigrated from China to New York in 1948. He told NY Daily News that he became a millionaire trading stocks while working humble jobs running a store and waiting tables, but the IRS somehow took it all.
Before the Today show suicide attempt, he was seen distributing a flyer which said that much the same thing. It accused the IRS of taking $300,000 from his bank accounts and starting the process to seize nearly $1 million more.
"He has these big overwhelming issues, the IRS, getting evicted. It's the stress. It's really gets to him. In those moments, he feels as if he doesn't have any help," his 40-year-old daughter Lisa Yu Paks explained to the New York Daily Post.
Both the News and the Post have now confirmed that Pak Chong Mar is the same man who cut off three fingers and tossed them into the crowd during a 1995 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing, New York.
His daughter believed that he became overwhelmed when he couldn't understand his tax obligations arising from his stock-trading transactions. "[I]t's a cry for help. If [he] was suicidal he would have done something much more drastic," she said.
Mar's injuries aren't life-threatening, and he should recover with the appropriate care.
There's no evidence that anyone else was in any danger during the Today show suicide attempt.
[Today show suicide attempt photo courtesy Sir Anduck via Twitter]
[tax bill photo by kabby via Shutterstock]