It’s often hard to imagine why even one person would kill themselves, let alone hundreds or even thousands of people doing it, and all at the same time. Yet, mass suicides have happened throughout history. There are three main reasons why these mass suicides happen, and at the end of this list you’ll know all of them. This is a list of 10 Mass suicides you won’t believe happened.
The People’s Temple
The People’s Temple cult members had moved on mass to the Guyana jungle. There they stood uncertain, and afraid of what the future might hold. All 909 of them looked to their leader Jim Jones for what to do. None of them knew how to survive in the jungle, but they would follow Jones anywhere, even taking their children with them. So, when Jones told them that the Soviet Union would no longer give them refuge, after some members of his cult, initiated a mass shooting just prior, they took him at his word.
They also took him at his word when he declared that if they didn’t do what he said, their children would be turned into fascists, and that there was only one option left. They all followed his orders and drank or injected cyanide. A minority of people tried to escape, and only some succeeded. How Jim Jones convinced so many people to kill themselves and their children has been debated ever since.
Sicarii Rebels, Masada
This is a particularly old mass suicide, committed around 73 AD. Only 960 Sicarii were guarding the hill fort of Masada, in Jerusalem. This small force had to survive the 9,000 Romans besieging them. Even with this size difference the Sicarri managed to hold off the Romans for an impressive time. This was partly due to Masada being such an easily defensible fort. The Romans had to resort to using ingenious engineering just to reach the rebels inside. Inside, the rebels knew they had put up a good fight, but that there was no way they could win this. Fearing what the Romans would do to their wives, children, and themselves, they tried to think of an answer. They came to a deadly conclusion. When the Romans finally breached Masada, they found a sea of bodies.
Movement For The Restoration Of The Ten Commandments
On March 17, the year 2000, hundreds of cultists were caught in a fiery explosion for reasons that cannot be explained. The 500 people inside were members of a cult who believed that the end of the world would come that day. They were inside the building eating, praying, and singing. The cult was led by three men who were said to have been visited by the Virgin Mary. They believed that their time would come that day, and it certainly did. However, did they kill themselves or did something else happen entirely?
After the battle of Saipan, thousands of Japanese men and women threw themselves off a cliff with the intent of escaping American torture, by any means necessary. They had been living off a psychological diet of Japanese propaganda for years, and had all sorts of insane beliefs about what the Americans did to their prisoners. In order to escape these perceived horrors they felt they had no choice but to jump. It’s estimated that 22,000 civilians died in this incident. American soldiers witnessed families commit suicide, in horrifically systematic ways. First, the eldest children would push the youngest. The mothers would then push the eldest children. Finally the fathers would push their wives, and then jump off themselves.
Soldiers at Fort Pilenai were attacked by the Teutonic Order. They were outnumbered heavily. Even so, they held their ground as long as they could, and never surrendered. Eventually the defending Lithuanians only had 500 men left, and their was no real hope of them winning the battle. They initiated a scorched earth strategy. By burning the entire place down, they deprived the Teutonic Order of resources, a great fort, and the slaves they would have surely turned the Lithuanians into. This battle has become famous in Lithuania and is seen as a heroic event in history.
While the Balinese army was faced with the invading Dutch, they stood looking at each other, waiting for the battle to commence. The Dutch army never could have imagined what would actually happen that day. The Balinese forces had arrived wearing traditional white robes, not a single person there was dressed differently. The head priest of the Balinese people, then stabbed one of his fellow Balinese people. The rest followed his lead, and they all began to murder each other, while the Dutch stood shocked. The Balinese were committing a ritual known as Paputan, where they kill themselves to avoid shame and dishonour. Things went wrong, when a stray shot led to the Dutch opening fire. This is one of history’s most recent mass suicides.
One of the most famous suicides in American history, is the Heaven’s Gate cult suicide. Members of the Heaven’s Gate cult followed a man named Marshall Applewhite. This man claimed that there was a spaceship hidden behind a comet known as Hale-Bopp comet. And that they could reach this comet, by committing suicide. 21 women, and 18 men, were all welcome to the idea of killing themselves if they would be able to get aboard the spaceship, but why? They believed that the human body was merely a container, and that it could be abandoned in favour of a higher physical existence.
Mass Suicide In Demmin
On May 1, 1945 citizens in Nazi Germany killed themselves in what was one of the worst mass suicides in German history. The people started to panic out of fear of the Red Army. The soviets had committed horrible atrocities to the town of Demmit the day before, and they feared a repeat. Many of the citizens had already escaped, along with the police, the army, and anyone that could have helped protect the citizens there.
When the Wehrmacht left they burned bridges in order to halt the Soviet’s advance, but also stranded any remaining citizens. The Red Army was stuck and so resorted to raping and executing people. In order to escape this fate they drowned themselves, hanged themselves, cut their own wrists, and even murdered their own children, so they wouldn’t suffer under the Red Army either. Afterwards, discussing the event became taboo under the East German Communist government.
This is another one of the cult suicides that happened in the 90’s. This one was eerily similar to the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide. Members of Solar Temple believed that the world was going to end around the time they committed the mass suicide. They felt the only way to avoid dying was to reach a higher plane of existence somehow. Police found letters after they had done the deed, which showed they felt they could escape the oppression and hypocrisies of the world by killing themselves.
The Dance Of Zalongo
Near the Village of Zalongo, in modern Greece. A group of women and children climbed up a mountain to escape the Ottoman’s. At this point in time, the area was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. They were being chased by Ottoman forces during the Souliote War of 1803, and climbed as high as they could. Once they had reached the highest point they could climb, they had nowhere else to go. The women chose to avoid becoming slaves, and threw themselves off the mountain while dancing and singing. The event became famous all across Europe.