As human beings we love to refer to ourselves as the most intelligent of all the world’s species — and from the stand point of ingenuity — we are. There are no other creatures in nature that can create anything that rivals an airplane or even a wrist watch. However, there are things about human beings that make us seem less intelligent than other species such as rats and mice. For instance, we’re the only species that will fight and kill each other over something as trivial as skin color. Meanwhile a grey, black, white and brown rat will accept each other as members of the same species. Human beings are also the only creatures that hold so little value for the amazing gift of life. Read on to know more about the phenomenon of the ‘mass suicide cult’.
Humans and Suicide
Even lower life forms like roaches and grasshoppers will attempt to evade a squashing foot. In fact, the only species that seems to hold no regard for life is humanity. There are a lot of reasons why people choose to commit suicide, and depression is one of the most prominent. This disturbing disease leaves people feeling as though they would rather die then continue with the pain. The people who are most likely to commit suicide are teenagers. This is especially true for bullied teens, because they usually have no friends to whom they can turn. Teenagers are also far less likely to realize the depression they feel is only temporary. Suicide is usually a last resort for people who feel like they can’t continue. However, there are times when people choose to end their lives as a ritual or a sacrifice to their deity.
Masada Mass Suicide
One of the first instances of a mass suicide was the tragedy at Masada. This is an ancient city in modern day Israel. there were nearly 1,000 people living in the city after a bloody war between the Romans and the Jews. Masada was considered to be a particularly safe because the entire town is located a top a plateau with very step sides. However, the determined Roman soldiers who attacked the village in 74 A.D. were able to build a ramp to access the village. When the troops laid siege to the city, all they found was the corpses of the citizens. There was a sole surviving adult woman and her five children. The woman informed the soldiers that everyone else chose to commit suicide rather than be captured. This is one of the most disturbing stories in Jewish history and more than 960 people committed suicide on that very tragic day. However, this story isn’t as disturbing as some of the more recent mass suicide stories.
Modern Mass Suicide
When the people of Masada committed suicide, it was to avoid capture by an occupying force. In the minds of many people, there are some fates that are worse than death, and being enslaved by the Roman empire was worse than dying to the citizens of Masada. They would have been subject to the most strenuous physical labor and inhumane treatment imaginable, so they chose to terminate their own life forces. However, some of the more modern cult suicides are associated with cults that think they’re killing themselves to appease a higher power. Cult mass suicide is one of the most disturbing events that can happen, because it’s so difficult to understand what was going through the minds of the people who took their own lives. Cults in general regarded in low regard by most people, and this is especially true of a suicide cult. One of the most infamous leaders of this type of cult was the infamous Jim Jones the man who convinced nearly 1,000 followers to kill themselves.
Who is Jim Jones
Jim Jones was born into a modest lifestyle and raised in a shack in Randolph county, Indiana. His father James was a soldier and a veteran of the first world war. However, it may have been his mother Lynetta who instilled the religious fanaticism into Jim. The woman reportedly thought that Jim was the messiah and apparently she instilled this delusional thinking into her son. Jim was obsessed with religion as a child and he would actually hold funerals for small animals that he killed. Jim was an outcast as a child and he had few friends. Instead of shooting marbles on a playground, Jones spent his time studying Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, two of the greatest orators to ever live. Perhaps it was his studying of these two great but misguided leaders gave Jones the ability to convince others to follow him.
Like many cult leaders, Jones was extremely intelligent and in 1948, he graduated from high school with honors. Jones began to attend communist party meetings while he was still in college at Indiana University Bloomington. It was his frustration with the systematic oppression of communists in the US that first led him to the church. He figured the pulpit would serve as a good platform to demonstrate his Marxist beliefs. Jones became a student pastor in in 1952 when he joined the Somerset Southside Methodist Church. However, he left the church, because the leaders were not willing to accept black members. Jones eventually started his own organization, the Peoples Temple Christian Church.
Jonestown Cult Suicide
This remains the most infamous mass suicide cult to ever exist. After founding his church in the United States, Jim Jones decided to escape the negative attitude expressed towards communists. Jones and most of his congregation relocated to the South American country of Guyana. The term “Jonestown” simply referred to the People’s Temple Agricultural Project which was established in the Caribbean nation because of it doesn’t extradite to the United States. Jones and other members of his organization were under investigation for their involvement in local elections in California.
In 1974, Jones began leasing 3,800 acres of land in Guyana where Jonestown was established. Once the madman was free from intervention from a strong government, he began to establish his church as the cult it was. The children within the town were surrendered to communal care and kept from their biological parents. They were made to refer to Jones as “father” which is a common practice in cults. Members who wanted to leave Jonestown were drugged as the town began to unravel at the seams. The Guyana government also became suspicious of the cult and sanctions began to threaten its existence. Rather than admit defeat, Jones chose to execute the members of his “church” by getting them to drink potassium cyanide. It was obvious that US intervention and a lack of effective leadership had effectively ended the church’s ability to exist in Guyana, and Jones refused to let his followers live without him. In all, more than 900 people committed suicide on November 18 1978. More than 200 children were also forced to drink the poisonous cocktail.
Cults in general are reason for serious concern, because they require all members to worship a single individual. Since the members regard the cult leader as a deity, they will do whatever is asked of them. For instance, the members of the Jonestown community took part in a suicide rehearsal to see if they would indeed kill themselves when the time came. Jonestown is the best known mass suicide in recent memories, but there have been others.
Heavens Gate was another cult where members killed themselves, but for a very different reason members of this cult believed suicide would give them access to a UFO that was attached to a comet. This logic may seem ridiculous to every one else, but the members of Heaven’s Gate believed it so adamantly that they actually ended their own lives. A mass suicide cult can exist for many different reasons, but the one common thread is usually an insane leader with an alluring personality.