November 18, 1978
909 people, a third of whom are children, are killed, by either poisoning or shooting
The suicide was prompted after Congressman Leo Ryan attempted unsuccessfully to persuade some followers of the Peoples Temple to return home to their families. Despite the overwhelming majority deciding to stay, Jim Jones, founder if the Temple, felt “all [was] lost” with his group. He sent assassins to gun down Congressman Ryan, his companions, and the handful of Temple members attempting to flee. He then had assistants mix a large batch of grape Flavor Aid laced with Valium and Phenergan (sedatives), cyanide, and chloral hydrate (a hypnotic which can cause coma and cardiac arrhythmia in overdose). Parents were encouraged to feed the poison to their children before drinking it themselves. Jim Jones himself died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.