The Jonestown Massacre, one of the saddest events in modern history, happened in the jungle of Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978. Over 900 members of the People’s Temple, including children, died in a mass murder-suicide led by the charming but delusional cult leader Jim Jones.
In the 1950s, Jim Jones started the People’s Temple in Indiana. Later, he moved his followers to Guyana, where they built a utopian city called Jonestown. Reports of abuse, coercion, and manipulation in the group started to come out over time.
The saddest part was when a group from the U.S. Congress went to Jonestown to look into reports of abuse. On the day they came to see them, Jones ordered a mass murder-suicide by telling his followers to drink Flavor-Aid with cyanide in it. People who tried to fight back were shot, and parents were often made to poison their own children.
The Jonestown Massacre is still a horrifying example of the dangers of cults and charismatic leaders who use their following and force them to do horrible things. It is a sad lesson of how careful we need to be to spot and stop tragedies like this.