budd dwyer suicide video
Photo: Instagram/Budd Dwyer

Suicide is against the law. Not just the legal law but many people believe that committing suicide is against the laws of life. If a person is alive then he or she has no right to take their life unless there is absolutely no reason for their staying alive. Like a man who has committed genocide and the net is closing in on him. Like Hitler had no choice when he knew the Allied forces were closing in on Berlin and he would be taken captive and held accountable for millions of deaths he had caused willingly. Budd Dwyer did not fall in this category which is why his suicide is shocking. What makes Budd Dwyer’s suicide even more shocking is why he did it and how he did it? Budd Dwyer’s death happened in front of people even as the cameras were rolling and many people who saw it are still traumatized by it. Budd Dwyer’s suicide happened on January 22, 1987, which was a long time ago but it set off a debate about ethics in the media on what footage could be shown on TV to the unsuspecting audiences. So people who have heard of this incident in recent times are asking – How did Budd Dwyer die?

Conviction in Bribery Trial Pushes Man to Suicide

Budd Dwyer was an American politician who served as the State Treasurer for Pennsylvania State and also as a Republican member in the mid to late 1960s. In the early 1980s, it was discovered that Pennsylvania’s state workers had overpaid their federal taxes due to the administration’s error and now needed to be paid back. A multi-million dollar contract was given to a firm for them to determine how much money each state worker needed to be paid back. In 1986, it was proved that Budd Dwyer had accepted a bribe from the California firm that had won this rewarding contract. Dwyer was convicted and found guilty on 11 counts of crimes like conspiracy, mail fraud, aiding in racketeering, and perjury, and he was scheduled to be sentenced on January 23, 1987. Dwyer called a press conference on January 22, 1987, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where after speaking to the reporters for while he pulled out a gun and fatally shot himself in front of reporters and other people present at the venue. Budd Dwyer’s suicide was captured live on camera and later that day Budd Dwyer’s suicide video was broadcast to TV viewers all across Pennsylvania.

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Claims of Innocence are Rejected by the Legal System

People speculated for a long time about this shocking event and asked – Why did Budd Dwyer kill himself? Even as he was being convicted Dwyer kept insisting that he had not received any bribe from the California firm Computer Technology Associates [CTA] but some of the firm’s employees testified against him. They provided testimony and proof that Budd Dwyer had received $300,000 as a bribe to award the no-bid $6.4 million contract to CTA and based on this evidence Dwyer was convicted and scheduled to be sentenced. Dwyer faced a sentence that could be up to 55 years of imprisonment and a fine of $300,000. Budd Dwyer was 47 years old at that time and it was obvious to him that when he was sentenced he would spend the rest of his life in prison and die in it. At the press conference on January 22, 1987, Dwyer first read out a statement and gave out official documents.

Everybody Watches Dwyer’s Bloody Suicide in Close-Up


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A post shared by R. Budd Dwyer (@dwyerdaily)

Then he brought out a manila envelope and pulled a Model 19 .357 Magnum revolver from it and calmly told the panicked crowd that they could leave the room as what was about to happen would affect them. The Dwyer put the gun into his mouth and shot himself. The bullet entered the roof of his mouth and then his brain killing Dwyer instantly even as he collapsed to the floor. Five live cameras recorded this act and one camera focused for a long time on Dwyer’s face capturing the blood streaming from his exit wound, his nostrils, and his mouth. It was bloody and graphic. This Budd Dwyer suicide video was broadcast all across Pennsylvania though some TV stations did not show the actual gunshot and subsequent death. Later Dwyer’s widow Joanne Dwyer received $1.28 million as survivor benefits from the Pennsylvania State system as per law since Budd Dwyer died in office. Some people believe that the answer to the question “Why did Budd Dwyer kill himself?” is this – He wanted the state benefits and his pension to go to his family who was struggling financially at that time after having spent big amounts of money for Dwyer’s legal defence.

A Graphic Suicide Becomes Something to Sing About!

Budd Dwyer’s autopsy was conducted and the authorities concluded that Budd Dwyer’s death was due to the mental health issues he was facing at that time. He was likely to be sentenced to 55 years in prison which proved too much for Budd Dwyer to accept. He probably stopped using his rational mind and got too emotional about his and his family’s bleak future and decided to end his sufferings instantly. The humiliations he was facing all through his legal trial were also a determinant in Budd Dwyer’s death due to suicide. Budd Dwyer’s death has become a big and morbid part of popular culture since 1987 as many music bands have sampled footage and sounds from Budd Dwyer’s suicide video. They have released music featuring elements from his suicide video and this is one of the big reasons why Budd Dwyer is still a topic of discussion in Pennsylvania today. Budd Dwyer’s suicide video continues to haunt the citizens of Pennsylvania even today!

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