A 20-year-old University of Guelph student apparently tried to kill himself by lighting his dorm room on fire as hundreds of people watched in an online chat room on Saturday night, school officials have confirmed.
The student suffered serious, non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the fire in his fourth-floor room at the Dundas Hall residence and is now in stable condition at Guelph General Hospital.
The student announced on an anonymous message board that he intended to kill himself and then broadcast the video live.
In front of an audience of 200 online users, he lights a fire in his room, turns off the lights and crawls into bed.
The apparent suicide attempt has sent shock waves through the campus, but Brenda Whiteside, the vice-president of student affairs at the university, said students and staff are doing their best to support each other.
"Clearly, there's shock, they're upset, you know they're angry, all the emotions you can imagine, but they're really sticking together," she said.
Whiteside said school officials have called several community meetings after learning the fire was not only a suicide attempt, but that video of it was also widely distributed online.
"On Sunday, we had a number of town hall meetings, both to let them know that there was a video and encourage them not to watch it or forward it on, but also to explain what our counselling procedures were going to be."
The fire was reported just before 8 p.m. on Saturday and was extinguished by the Guelph Fire Department.
Two firefighters as well as two staff members at the University of Guelph were also taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, said Whiteside. They have since been released.
While the damage caused by the fire appears to be limited to the student's dorm room, the fourth floor has been cordoned off until police and fire authorities have finished their investigation into the cause of the fire, Whiteside said.
Thirty students have been given temporary accommodation while police investigate.