- historical event: The leader of the sect, Jim Jones, called for suicide, which was done using the Flavor Aid drinks poisoned with cyanide. It is especially tragic that 303 children dead were among the dead.
On this day occurred the greatest loss of human lives in contemporary American history, with the exception of natural disasters and the September 11attacks. Namely, on this day in 1978 a mass suicide of 909 members of the Peoples Temple cult took place. The leader of the sect, Jim Jones, called for suicide, which was done using the Flavor Aid drinks poisoned with cyanide. It is escpecially tragic that 303 children dead were among the dead. Jim Jones founded the Peoples Temple sect back in 1955, in Indiana. He was a former communist, and probably an atheist. He moved the sect headquarters to the South American country of Guyana, founding a town named after him, Jonestown. In November 1978 the U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan flew there to investigate reports of human rights violations within the sect. Jones’s people killed the congressman and four other members of the delegation. It was the first and only murder of a U.S. congressman on duty throughout U.S. history. Jones feared U.S. retaliation, and that is probably why he called for the mass suicide. He was also found among the dead, and his body bore a self-inflicted gun wound.