Death is perhaps one of the most harshest of truths. Dealing with this reality of life, either in thought or in essence is particularly perplexing. And when mass deaths rule over lands all at once, be it in the time of pandemics of wars, the image is one of devastation. Particularly when such mass loss of lives are something whiled away by the selves as suicide, the alarming reality of it all is even creepy. Here’s documenting the freakiest such mass suicide episodes in documented world history to chill you out-
Battle Of Matouba Suicides
A strategic approach to battle more than just a mass suicide, this historical episode unfolded at the Battle of Matouba in the beginning of the 19th century. In 1802, when the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte advanced to reclaim slavery honours during the Battle of Matouba, they were met with an unforeseen form of resistance. With Guadeloupe in danger of once again falling slave to the mighty French, the African- Carribeans led by Louis Delgrès resisted this restoration of slavery. They waited for Napoleon’s army to come close enough, before igniting their gunpowder stores. The giant explosion that ensued killed not just some 400 Guadeloupe men and women under Delgres but also resulted in the annihilation of the French army.
Dance Of Zalongo
A heart wrenching mass suicide saga that unfolded back in 1803, the Dance of Zalongo was a marked feature of the Souliote War. In the historical cliffs of Mount Zalongo remains embedded a tragic tale of more than two score deaths. Inhabited by the Souli people, the village of Zalongo in Epirus, in what is now modern day Greece, sensed a threat to their freedom when a certain Ali Pasha threatened to usurp their territory. He did indeed brutally proceed in his endeavors, killing and enslaving many Souliots until the fearless female of the clan chose dignity over enslavement.
Thus stemmed a tale of the fearless dancing troupe where more than 50 Souliot women sang and danced their way to the cliff of Mount Zalongo. Once atop the historic cliff, each woman gallantly threw over their child to certain death, and following them soon after as they themselves plunged to their death with brave, open arms. What was in essence a compelling act of rebellion became instead a ghastly ritualistic ceremony, that remained forever as a legacy of the 16th of December, 1803.
Igbo Landing Mass Suicide
The year 1803 witnessed not just one mass suicide in the Dance of Zalongo but plays host to also another mass incident of self immolation. The Igbo Landing Mass Suicide is another significant event in history, concerning the African American people and thereby commands a special place in their folklore. The site of this large mass suicide was Igbo Landing at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia where a group of some about 75 enslaved labours drowned to death.
A fiercely independent community of West Africans, the Igbos did not accept their fate when they were almost on the verge of being enslaved by the United States. Aboard the deck of the coastal vessel York, the Igbo slaves rose in rebellion. Taking the control of the ship, the Igbos drowned their captors and caused the grounding of the ship in Dunbar Creek. While the actual number of deaths could never be ascertained, the Igbo Landing became famous as the attemptive site for a significantly large mass suicide- a symbolic act of rebellion which amounted to ‘a major at of resistance’ by the Africans.
Badung Puputan Suicides
While Puputan is the Balinese term for a ritual mass suicide, it was the Badung Puputan of 1906 that is one of the largest such episodes in modern times. The Indonesians considered death a better proposition than having to face the humiliation of surrender. Needless to say, puputans have dominated many a historical events in Bali since long. But the Badung Puputan was significant in its grave numbers even for a mass suicide. In 1906 when the Dutch army marched unhindered into Balinese territory and forced the natives to surrender to them, the Bali people instead chose to do away with their lives and started performing suicides by stabbing. Some 1000 lives were lost in that single puputan, in what became one of the largest mass murders in history.
German Mass Suicides
The end of the Second World War has been perhaps one of the most significant periods in modern history. While the war itself was the source of the Japanese mass suicides, the Nazi country of Germany too witnessed a series of such self induced mass deaths. 1945 was the year when Nazi Germany lived up to its final weeks. As the authoritarian man behind the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, and a host of other high-ranking officials chose Selbstmord or self- murder over the surrender to the Soviet Army, a huge number of guileless common Germans followed suit.
The year of 1945 saw more than 7000 reported deaths in the now capital city of Berlin. At least 1,000 Germans killed themselves and others within 72 hours in Demmin, while 3881 suicides took place in the April of 1945. Cyanide capsule, hanging, drowning, wrist cutting and shooting were how the Germans went about this deadly exit plan from purported atrocities of the Soviet army. The 1945 deaths has gained notoriety as “organised mass suicide on a large scale which had previously not occurred in the history of Europe” and remain one of the most chilling mass suicide encounter of recent times.
Japanese Mass Suicides
The second World War perhaps had one of the worst effects on the Asian country of Japan. But prior to the world’s first ever atomic bombs ravaging the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country was already devastated by a series of induced deaths. The Japanese mass suicides of 1944 claimed thousands of both military and civilian lives as victims. In the Battle of Saipan, faced with the horrifying prospect of torture by the American army, many Japaense jumped to their death under the order of General Saito.
The Suicide Cliff and the Banzai Cliff emerged as the suicide hotspots that saw numerous people embrace death for a ‘privileged place in the afterlife’. As 22000 of 25000 civilians and 5000 soldier including General Saito died of their own accord, the 1944 suicides became one of the ‘grandest’ yet of modern history.
Peoples Temple Massacre
One of the most shocking of mass murder chronicles is a fairly recent phenomenon. On November 18, 1978, in Guyana, 918 people died in a massacre that is hard to point out exclusively either as mass suicide or murder. The site of the gruesome encounter was Jonestown, a remote settlement of the American new religious community People’s Temple. Founded in 1955 by Jim Jones, the leader drove hundreds of his followers into suicide as reports of his ulterior motives started gaining public prominence. People’s Temple had by then already been investigated for financial frauds and child abuse. One of the most significant of mass suicides instigated by a new religious movement, the Jonestown saga saw 276 children also sacrifice themselves by drinking a cyanide- laced punch in what Jones termed a ‘revolutionary suicide’.
Heaven’s Gate Mass Suicides
At the center of this mass suicide of 1997 was the American UFO religious millenarian cult Heaven’s Gate. The mass death of 39 people between March 22 and March 26 was in fact a coordinated series of ritual suicides that members of the cult believed would grant them access to the extraterrestrial spacecraft following Comet Hale–Bopp. 21 women and 18 men were found dead in identical condition with matching clothes, Nike sneakers, and plastic bags tied around their heads. Poisonous apple sauce or pudding was washed down with vodka by every member as they “prepared to leave ‘this world’ and go with Ti’s crew.”
Another mass murder camouflaged as suicide occurred in 2000, also interestingly from a religious movement named the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. The mass deaths were incited by the leaders of this religious movement from Uganda who predicted an apocalypse at the beginning of the new millennium. However, as their prediction failed to become a reality thereby affecting their credibility and financial bearings, the group conceived their own demise. At a party held to celebrate before the world would end with certainty on 17 March that year, an intense fire was set off that immediately killed 530 people. Subsequent discoveries also chronicled an estimated 400 bodies killed prior to this brutal murder. A total of 924 victims played out from this whole deadly encounter, either by poisoning or by burning.