Several Buddhist monks and nuns have committed suicide in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan province recently. By burning themselves to death they have broken one of the core tenets of Buddhism in an extreme and brutal way. As Buddhists, one of the Five Precepts, or rules they should live by, is they should avoid killing or harming any living being, including themselves.
And according to Tibetan Buddhism, taking the life of a human being is prohibited. Killing another, suicide, as well as inciting and instigating others to kill are all grave sins. A person can only be considered a true spiritual practitioner if he or she does no harm to any living being and does not kill or cause others to kill.
Tibetan Buddhism has never encouraged its practitioners to take the life of another human being, let alone the lives of the practitioners themselves. Thus, the self-immolations by these monks and nuns are not only a tragedy for them and their families, but also a disavowal of Buddhism.
Some people with ulterior motives have claimed that self-immolation is not against Buddhist doctrines, because it is free of selfish motives. They are willing to distort Buddhist doctrines for their own purpose and they extol the sin of self-immolation as "the greatest goodness" and "noble behavior". They even claim self-immolation is a religious activity offering tribute to the Buddha.
However, Buddhists should endeavor to protect and take care of all living creatures. The Noble Eightfold Path, which is the Buddhist code of behavior, requires right conduct, and this stipulates abstaining from taking life, including suicide.