The Jonestown Massacre of 1978

Dead Bodies of the Jonestown Mass Suicide | Courtesy of Pinterest

As reporters and health officials walked onto the grounds of the mass suicide in Guayana, they were in shock over what they were seeing; hundreds of bodies face down on the ground, dead. One person who was at the site said that the amount of dead bodies was appalling, “it was depicted as not American, not religious, not sane, and ultimately not human.”1 Over 550 bodies of the 900 were unclaimed for almost six months until US Officials decided to cremate them. Once they brought the bodies back to the United States from Guayana, many Americans didn’t think it was right to have these bodies spread out on American soil because of the act they made. US Officials then decided to scatter the ashes of the dead bodies away from the United States border lines.

Jim Jones was often seen as a “father figure” to all of his followers | Courtesy of Wikipedia

It all started with Jim Jones. Jones was a religious/political cult leader who had established the People’s Temple as a sect in Indianapolis in the 1950s. His cult focused on themes of communism, and the fight against racism, attracting many African Americans. He moved his cult to San Francisco in 1971, but it would not remain there for long. Soon after the group moved there, Jones was accused of financial fraud, physical abuse of his cult’s members, and mistreatment of children. After Jones was accused, in 1973, he became paranoid that someone would try to destroy his cult, so he moved his entire group to Guayana, South America, to build a socialist utopia known as Jonestown.

Dead bodies found after the mass suicide. Most if not all of the bodies were turned facedown | Courtesy of Google Images

Once the cult moved to Guayana, people started to question even more the accusations being made against Jim Jones. Members who had left or escaped the cult were worried for the people still in the cult, so they convinced U.S. Congressmen Leo Ryan of California to fly to Guyana. “In November 1978, Ryan along with a group of journalists and relatives of cult members went to investigate the charges.”2 Jones did not like the idea of people coming to investigate, so he ordered his followers to have Ryan and his investigators assassinated. He ordered the attack on the group as they were returning to the airstrip to leave. A journalist named Charles Krause reported that that morning Ryan was attacked by a man with a knife, although he was not hurt by the incident. “Later that same day, Ryan and his party were attacked by assassins at the Port Kaituma Airstrip. Ryan and four others were killed and ten were injured.”3 While these killings were going on, Jones feared that he would lose his cult members and they would turn against him. He then proceeded to lead his people through a mass suicide, which was something the members had repeatedly practiced since the early 1970s.

These practices were called “White Nights” and consisted of members drinking a liquid that they believed was poisonous as a loyalty test to Jones.4 During these “White Nights,” people were woken up by a loud speaker, and they would assemble for the ritual of passing around a drink of kool-aid, which they were told was poison. Unfortunately, this time was not a test. Hundreds of adults and children lined up to drink this colorful, fruit-flavored punch, which contained cyanide and tranquilizers. Most of them thought they were just proving their loyalty as before, but as more people began to die, they realized that this time it was real. “Over 260 children, for example, had the poison given to them, while only about 40 adults escaped.”5 For those who died willingly though, collective suicide held a religious significance in the context of the worldview that had been established in Jonestown.

The remains of Jonestown after the mass suicide | Courtesy of Pinterest

Collective suicide was a ritual that signified a purity of commitment to the community. On the night that they all drank this poison, Jim Jones announced “that the members of the community were united as black, proud socialists.”6 Collective suicide also promised release from a world dominated by what Jones perceived as American racism, capitalism, and fascism. He did not want to be captured and taken back to America, so instead he urged his followers to drink the poison, and “step out of the world.”7 Jones had told his followers that they were not committing suicide, but rather they were performing an act of freeing themselves from the harsh world that they lived in. There are later reports that when officials went to Jonestown, Jim Jones was found with gunshot wounds, raising the speculation that either he had committed suicide or someone else had killed him.

The Jonestown Massacre was the largest mass suicide in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the September 11 attack in 2001. The mass suicide resulted in over 900 deaths of innocent lives. Once the bodies were found, the Guyanese government asked the United States to take the bodies back. US Officials decided to start sending a few people over to identify bodies so they could decide what to do with them. Over 500 bodies were unclaimed and that is when the United States decided to have the US Air Force come in to take the bodies back to the United States.”8 To this day, families of loved ones are still trying to find a memorial place for the lost lives.

  1.  Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005, s.v. “Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” by David Chidester.
  2.  Dictionary of American History, 2003, s.v. “Jonestown Massacre,” by Carolyn Bronstein.
  3. Dictionary of American History, 2003, s.v. “Jonestown Massacre,” by Carolyn Bronstein.
  4. Dictionary of American History, 2003, s.v. “Jonestown Massacre,” by Carolyn Bronstein.
  5. Encyclopdeia of Religion, 2005, s.v. “Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” by David Chidester.
  6.  Encyclopdeia of Religion, 2005, s.v. “Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” by David Chidester.
  7. Encyclopdeia of Religion, 2005, s.v. “Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” by David Chidester.
  8. Encyclopdeia of Religion, 2005, s.v. “Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” by David Chidester.
The Jonestown Massacre of 1978
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The Jonestown Massacre of 1978

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  • This article told the story of the Jonestown Massacre, made of the “peoples temple”, a cult created by Jim Johns. This cult preformed a “white nights” which was a mass suicide. This is a horrific story that I can honestly say I have never heard anything like it before. I’m in awe that Jim Johns had this much of a hold on a community that they were willing to kill themselves for him and their cause. This was a very captivating article, over all great job.

  • This was a very good article on not only the Jonestown Massacre itself but also on the cult as a whole. I have heard and read a lot about the Jonestown Massacre however, this article gave me some new insights. I did not know that they practiced the ritual of “White Night” in which they had to prove their loyalty. This makes sense as to why they were not hesitant when they were all lined up and told to drink the Kool aid. Also I did not know that they American people had such a strong animosity towards the people who committed suicide in Guyana. So much so that they did not even want their ashes spread out over American soil.

  • Very sad, yet interesting article. Prior to reading the article, I had never heard of The Jonestown Massacre nor ever knew how many people died in it. Jim Jones took so many lives, of which include hundreds of children. It’s crazy how some of these people were actually willing to lose their lives because of a religion they believe in and put their entire faith in one person.

  • This story is devastating and really hits close to home at this time due to the Las Vegas shooting earlier this week. It is so sad that someone has the audacity to preform this kind of stunt, reading about this massacre makes it so hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that this could happen. It’s crazy to think that someone could do this to other human beings.

  • This was very disturbing, but also informing. I’ve never heard of the Jonestown massacre. ive heard of cults and how dangerous some are. also one of my favorite teacher in high school daughter was apart of a cult and she got possessed and he haven’t seen her in a year. so for me to read about this story and kind of hit me hard because people put their lives into others and were manipulated . and the end result was death. I don’t not like CULTS , they are dangerous!

  • Intriguing, well written article. It is crazy to think that a lot of people died because they believed in this one person and his promise to create this amazing society. These people really believed that they could become a utopia that they put up with the abuse and mistreatment. The loyalty tests are a little scary to me because you never know if there could be real poison in the drink. These people thought they were just tests and by the time they realized that this time it wasn’t, it was too late to go back. Tragic, but interesting story.

  • A well written and put together article. It just seems so crazy how people would be able to follow a man like that in the place. At the beginning, it probably seemed like a loving family but when charges and investigations where placed on Jim Jones red flags should have gone up. To need people to have to drink poison for proof of loyalty is crazy. Then to betray that loyalty with death is something unforgivable.

  • There are many things that I do not like about the article. The obvious being how one man could be so diabolical to perform such actions. The other being how over 900 people actually listened to him because he was the cult leader. There are too many things wrong in this and it makes me upset that such events actually took place in history. I wish that something like that this would never happen again but I am glad that this article was written as this was my first encounter with the event.

  • It is truly heartbreaking and sad on what these people were put on to do, it was their way of life controlled by someone who felt and overruling of these innocent lives. Such a marking event in history that I wished didn’t exist although there’s a little of everything in this world. The people in this town were brainwashed with this ideology that proving your loyalty to a cult was shown by drinking a drink and to think that they were so loyal to where they would do it knowing something might have not been right. An truly memorable event in history.

  • This is a truly intriguing article because of the crazy and messed up story it tells. I really can’t believe that one man could do such a thing like that or be capable of something that horrendous. It really makes me question if there are any others out there in the world like Jim Jones or others that think the same way as he did. I just can’t wrap my head around the fact that 900 people were really convinced enough to be willing to commit suicide for a leader, Jim Jones, who probably didn’t care for their well being at all because he was running from his own problems.

  • I still find it incredibly unbelievable that one person, Jim Jones, was able to not only convince 900 hundred of his ideas, but was able to get them to commit something as gruesome as suicide. Truly a chilling story to read but also very eye opening to those who have never heard of The Jonestown Massacre of 1978, such as myself.

  • Well written article but I can’t piece together how Jones persuaded 900 people to view him as a leader, even if the cult had focused on themes of communism, and the fight against racism. I like how this article goes into detail about who was killed, how many, and how because those are all important factors. No life should be taken for any reason especially for someone else’s fault. Well done article but was a tragic story.

  • This is so interesting yet sad.. I have never heard about this and frankly I am appalled. I have heard about mass suicide through school and learning about how certain religions believe but never like this. I still don’t understand how this man got at least a thousand people to follow him and kill for him. This cult seems to be founded on hate and very low self esteemed individuals. I can only wonder how sad it was to be a child in this cult when your parents are that “put out” by their America that they would let their own children commit suicide. Instead of leaving this so called horrible world, why not stay and try to better it? Also it is so tacky to call his new utopia “Jonestown”. It sounds like “Jamestown’ which was the first colony in the United states and it just shows ignorance and disrespect.

  • I had initially heard about this event while in my junior year of high school, but it was a very brief lesson. I was drawn to this article because of its familiar title but found myself extremely intrigued by its story. It is absolutely unbelievable how quickly life can change up on us. I truly wonder how Jim Jones was capable of having so many people be loyal to him, and believe his word.

  • What a bizarre experience. I remember reading that the leaders of Jonestown actually kept friendly relations with the White House at the time. It is incredibly sad that so many innocent people lost their lives to those mad men. But still, reading about the history of Jonestown makes me glad to be someone with a strong, non-pliable will. Thank you for this informative article!

  • this was a haunting article that truly moved me. although the article itself is well written I truly found the image used incredibly effective in surprising and bringing in the audience and setting the scene for the dark subject matter in the article. I have personally only ever heard of bits and pieces of this event although this article does a fantastic job of gripping and informing.

  • I’ve herd about the James town massacre but I didn’t know about the full extent of it. killing almost 1000 people and 550 of the bodies have not been identified is very disturbing. I could only imagine how their family member fell about no knowing if there family members were dead or alive. you did a great job at explaining the full extent of what was going on.

  • This tragedy showcases the weakness of the human mind. We as people are all capable of assessing immediate danger, yet the difficulties of preventing it are forever bound to us as death is certain, yet random. Victims of this horrendous crime were the subjects of a madman’s ability to corrupt and influence those who are not capable of properly assessing a potentially dangerous situation. Devotion and deceit play on the minds of the victims and create awful events such as this.

  • This article was informative and engaging at the same time, the author did a good job in keeping the reader engaged with interesting facts and details. I had no idea that this massacre was caused by a cult. Before today I didn’t even know the true story of what made so many people commit suicide. It breaks my heart knowing so many children were victims to this cult and many bodies were unidentified and cremated.

  • I had only heard bits and pieces of the Jonestown Massacre so it was interesting to finally read and find out what really happened. It is horrible to picture how Jim Jones preyed on certain minorities to abuse, brainwash, and ultimately kill them. As I was reading, I was also focusing on the pictures and it gave me chills looking at how the story came alive. Unfortunately, Jones isn’t the only cult leader that has been responsible for murder/suicide tragedies; there is Charles Manson, Jefferey Lundgren, and Carl Drew for example. This article was great, good work!

  • This was such an interesting article to read. I have never heard of this massacre; however, the article gave me enough information to understand and know what had happened. It’s scary to see how one person could have convinced so many people to commit suicide. This article was depressing to read, but with the way it was written I was still intrigued.

  • This is a very sad article. It’s hard to imagine over 900 people dead due to suicide. It is truly amazing how one person can cause so much destruction. I think its really unfortunate to think of all the children that were just doing what they though was normal, and it resulting in their death. How terrible of Jones to manipulate these people into thinking that they were just showing their loyalty. They had no idea that they would end up dead. I cant imaging what it was like for the reporters and police to see all of the bodies lying everywhere.

  • Before reading this article I only knew the basics of the Jonestown Massacre, how a cult committed mass suicide. When I first read about this I just thought about how crazy it was that so many people agreed to commit suicide. There has been many theories talking about this “suicide” not being a suicide. Many people think that the leader, Jim Jones secretly killed everyone. I would like to learn more abput the Jonestown Massacre, it is a very interesting story.

  • Very informative article. It is so sad to see what racism and discrimination did to people. A lot of innocents lost their lives, but some people died willingly is which scared me. I will never understand how dying is “freeing” according to some. About Jones particularly, It is unacceptable for him to takes others lives as a form of loyalty. Thank you for a great article nonetheless!

  • The case of the Jim Jones sect, eloquently written in the article, is a case full of controversy and demonstrates human characteristics that I would like to highlight. The first one is freedom of religion/ideology. We live in a world where freedom to decide what to believe in is imperative, since the Berlin Wall fell, and social freedoms were promoted internationally. Product of this is our present world, in which any person who attacks the freedom of genre, ideology or religion is considered an abomination. However, is this productive for society? In my opinion, freedom is not a quality that we all deserve (do not misunderstand me, keep reading the comment). The foregoing must sound very strong and characteristic of a Latin American dictator, but I am referring to ideological/religion freedom. Ideologies or religions that undermine the rights of others can not be allowed at all. We all know the atrocities against women committed in some countries guided by laws with religious bases (I will not give any concrete example to not hurt susceptibilities). We all know how the followers of Jim Jones ended. So, why should we give them the freedom to propagate an ideology that promotes machismo or massive suicide? This can not be tolerated, that is the limit of freedom. Since this argument of freedom is used by groups such as the white supremacists, I believe that we should investigate the teachings and ideologies propagated today, in order to avoid another massive suicide like that of Guyana.

  • This article brought to life information that infuriated me. I had never heard of a cult like this, this also reminded me of Charles Manson. However, it is known now that this man actually gave his “girls” and his “family” small doses of LSD while preaching to them, and inculcating his dogmas. Yet, it is almost unbelievable that these people were willingly taking his poison on these “white nights” to prove their dedication to him. Jim Jones was definitely a sick, weak, cowardly man, that needed to convince and kill hundreds of people for him to feel validation for his cult.

  • I was actually eagerly waiting for an article to be written about this incident. I am glad it is now written because I have been wanting to learn more about it. I still cannot wrap my head around how people will follow another through anything. It is sad that so many hundreds of lives were lost just because of one man’s influence. This incident really makes me think one thing. Disbelief. It is hard to believe that this occurred although it really did.

  • I had no idea this had even happened, therefore I was intrigued by the title. This reminded me of Charles Manson, however I don’t believe Charles Manson did anything ever like this. I feel that this is one of the more extreme cult rituals in our history. It’s quite impressive that one man convinced hundreds of people to believe in certain ideas, and I feel that it’s more impressive that he was able to convince people to drink “poison” as a test for their loyalty.

  • This article is extremely interesting, but the title didn’t catch my attention. The first paragraph though was so graphic and intense, that I just had to keep reading. The way people would kill themselves in the practices of white nights was freaky and mind boggling. I would recommend lightening the mood so that more people can see this. Taking a more comedic route to a horror story would have in my opinion made this article a better read. Either way though, Great story.

  • Jones ideologies were crazy! It’s unbelievable how people followed him to do this crazy stuff! I have never heard of this massacre before in my life and I’m shocked about what happen back in 1978. Its unfortunately that some families still to the day have not located their corpses. It’s was a shocking article and nice information, never heard of the event before.

  • Reading this article gave me goosebumps. It is really terrifying to see that people who are not mentally stable or sane have so much power over other. It surprises me even more hoe there are people who are willing to follow. And not only follow, but to not even question certain methods or ideas he is trying to implement. If someone order the assassination of other humans that is where I would at least reconsider who I am actually following, because he was saying peace and no racism but taking other people’s life’s is a whole bigger thing.

  • Ms. Ybarra’s article I found to be fully insightful and yet concise. the title does a good job of centralizing what the subject of topic is. the initial most grabbing aspect of were the four gripping photos quickly calling my attention and yet offering a summary to the tragedy that is expected. after reading, the article had so much to offer, and I enjoy that she was able to bring about this event and compare to others in history. It provides a more clear perspective on the severity of this event in history.

  • I usually find it hard to follow along with serious topics but this article was great read! Very interesting and kept me engaged from beginning to end. I’ve heard the phrase “drink the kool-aid” but never knew what it really meant. This is such a tragic story of how this man, Jim Jones, convinced all these innocent people who believed and trusted him to commit suicide.

  • Terrible instance in American history. The man was insane. His ideologies, of course, made it easy for certain people to follow him. It seems that his insanity and corruptness was masked by things he said. Again, this is a dark and terrible instance. I feel as though, even today, people are still susceptible to falling for people in this manner. Maybe not to the point of mass suicide, but to a point where there is some sort of violence, neglecting, and complete shift of morals.

  • Sort of stumbled upon this article. Its crazy to think that people would actually follow this guy because of such insecurities. The pictures really brought this article to life. I could only imagine living in a time like this. The fact that he had everyone move out of the states and started a bigger cult elsewhere makes me wonder how much of a good speaker and persuader he must have been. Overall, this was a very interesting article to read!

  • This article is truly breathtaking. Before I read this article I never knew about the Jonestown massacre. As I was reading I realized how this massacre came to be. Jim Jones took the life of over 900 people including children. It is heart aching how people were willing to commit suicide because of Jim Jones. These rituals called “white poison” were practiced before but little did these individuals know that what they were practicing would one day not only take their lives but their children’s lives as well.

  • As someone who has plans to one day serve in the United States Air Force, I could not imagine the reaction I would have had if I were to be one of those Airmen that was deployed to retrieve bodies from history’s largest suicide. It is amazing what a good leader is capable of. Like Hitler, who led one one of (if not the) worlds largest genocides, Jones was able to brainwash a large group of people to not only relocate to a different part of the world, but voluntarily drink a poison that would kill 900 innocent people. He was able to get people to commit to his ideology and was able to persuade his followers to kill themselves by telling them it was a way of becoming free from the harsh world.

  • This is one of the most tragic stories I have ever learned about. It’s “not American, not sane, and inhuman.” It’s crazy to think someone can be so caught up in religion to actually put your own life in the faith of another human being. What this man, Jim Jones, does to all of these people is sickening. It’s hard to believe that someone could be so concerned with themselves to just hurt all the people who have trusted him and put their faith in him.

  • Your article was so interesting to read! I remember hearing about the massacre but never really knowing what it was about. Jim Jones was so powerful in ways that some people will never understand, it’s actually scary to think that people had such easy control over others. He managed to kill so many people simply because he didn’t want to lose his cult. People were so willing to obey him on those white nights because they wanted to pledge their loyalty to him. I honestly couldn’t do that especially if someone said pretend its poisoned. It had to have clicked in their head that this isn’t right even after they saw people dying after drinking the poisoned liquid. I feel so sorry for the people who lost their lives during that, no one deserves to die because of someone else’s issues with the world. Thank you for educating me about it.

  • I very much enjoyed reading this article because the Jonestown Massacre has always been something that has really fascinated me. It is crazy to think that one individual can have that much power over an entire group. It is terrible to think that many people lost their lives because of the choice of one man. It is even worse to think that there were children that never had the chance at a normal life or upbringing.

  • This article was very informing. I had no prior knowledge of such events happening before reading this article. It is truly shocking that so many individuals would follow a cult that would have ridiculous tests to prove loyalty. In this case it was not a test. Sad that people would be so nieve and trusting of someone so extreme in his ways.

  • I learned of this event many years ago and although I found it interesting, I never read about it any further until now that I’ve read this article. It is just as fascinating to me now as it was when I had heard of it. It really makes you think of how someone of no relation to you can have such an impact on your decisions. It is sad that their loyalty to Jones cost them their lives, but Jones must have been a very persuasive and manipulative man. So far to even convince his cult to move to a completely different continent to be with him. It is good that many escaped this cult, but my heart is with all those children that lost their lives and did not have a chance to grow and fend for themselves as well. It is all just very interesting as it is morbid.

  • This article was one of the most surprising things that I have ever read. Prior to reading this I had no knowledge of this terrible event. All those people were extremely loyal to this cult so much as they were willing to drink the kool-aid. It is terrible how many people lost their lives due to the leadership of one man. It is scary to think that they trusted him and they died because he was afraid of losing power.

  • I was completely unaware of such events prior to reading this. This gave me chills. It is true, historical horror. I am urged to read and learn more about this particular massacre and I am curious to know if there are anymore like it in history. I am also curious to know if Jim Jones committed suicide or if he was killed. I find that mystery dark and interesting. What resonates with me the most is how so many people put total trust into one person and lost their lives because of it. They did not die fighting. That is the real tragedy.

  • Prior to my reading of the article, I had only general information concerning the massacre as a whole. Although, now that I have read the article I can confidently say I am well-informed of the aforementioned, the article is well thought out and does not leave many loose ends. With that said, I am confused about the poisoning of the members, did they all drink the poison almost simultaneously? Or were they actually passing around a container of the poison as you had mentioned? Also, concerning the argument that those who killed themselves should not be buried in America, I believe they shouldn’t have been considered horrible as this is a country of free belief, no matter what that belief is.

  • I’m glad I read this article because while I’d seen the picture before and heard of the event I never knew from where it was from. Furthermore I never could even conceive that one man could accumulate over 900 members in a cult and groom them to be so loyal that they’d not only be willing to kill, but commit suicide with him. I wonder if he would have had that same amount of impact if he had decided to do something good with his talents.

  • This is the first I’ve heard of this massacre. It is a horrid event in history but what was interesting to me was that there are some unsolved actions like if the group knew they were being poisoned or just thought it was a test of loyalty and also the death of Jim Jones gunshot woulds. I believe those gunshots on Jones were from the 40 people who escaped the “white night” and attacked him after the group massacre happened. Outstanding article!

  • This article was very well written as well as informative, I had always heard the phrase “drinking the kool-aid” however I did not know where it actually came from. And after reading this article I now realized that it was because of the Jonestown Massacre. These types of topics interest me because it is interesting and strange to see how some people react to certain situations, and how some people will just follow blindly instead of thinking things through logically.

  • I have never really understood cults to this day. I get that sometimes there is a certain religious factor involved but still sometimes doesn’t seem like an ideal way of life. What really intrigues me about this article is that apparently, they would pretend to drink poison more than once! That is absolutely absurd, why even take the chance of being poisoned to prove your loyalty to a leader who seemed like he didn’t even know what he was doing. Yeah ha-ha it`s okay because it`s really not poison until the day came where it really was. I just feel that if the members of the cult would have known that it was poison before they drank it, majority would have done otherwise.

  • The Jonestown Massacre is a topic in which I have previously done research on. This event is extraordinarily gruesome given the fact that so many innocent lives were lost, these people were anywhere from newborns to teens to middle aged men and women to senior citizens. My heart breaks for the people directly and indirectly involved. Now we all know the everlasting debate people all around the world continue to have about whether or not “ignorance is bliss” and this tragic event is a proof of evidence for the side “Ignorance is NOT bliss”. These people did not educate themselves on what they were getting into with The People’s Temple, nor did they take a step back to examine their lives and the choices they had been blindly making, they put too much trust into one man who they truly knew nothing about, and by the time some of them realized this it was unfortunately too late. So in conclusion thank you for this article I found it very enjoyable and I appreciate the statistic about 9/11, I had not previously known of that.

  • Hello Lianna, this was an amazing article to read and learn about. I Like the way the article was organized and the information it held. I had heard of the Jonestown massacre before but had no idea that over 900 people had died that day. This is a rather dark and sad story because some of them thought that they were just doing a practice to show loyalty to him but in fact it was actual poison.

  • Cults have always fascinated me. Leaders such as Marilyn Manson, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite and of course Jim Jones all had this remarkable ability to draw people to them. One of the obvious tactics they use to gain trust is fear. In your article you state that David was able to attract many African Americans to his cult by using their fear of racism and discrimination against them. He promised them freedom from their fears. Although I have read about the Jonestown Massacre many times I did not know about his practice of “white nights”. It seems as if he knew that at some point the need for mass suicide would arise and he wanted to be ready. This was a truly wonderful article to read.

  • I kind of loved the way how this article is managed. Starting from Jones cult being focused on themes of communism, fight against racism and more to the upsetting death of over 900 people, I got the chance to know about something new. I would have loved the article even more if it had more details about how Jones exactly died. I was very upset reading this because many peoples had to lose their lives just for supporting him. Also, members who had once left the cult were worried for the people still in the cult, which proves that humanity exists.

  • Great usage of descriptive language in your introduction, it really helps paint such horrific scene vividly. Also, your insight about Jim Jones, his beginnings, and distinct end, does add more depth to the piece. Although graphic, the image selection does make the reader grasp the magnitude of the atrocious event. How was a single man able to persuade so many people to take their own lives? This is just staggering. In a way, this article shows the power of persuasion, and how individuals follow their leaders. Imagine if Jim Jones had used his persuasion ability for the good, I am sure no Governmental Agency would have wanted him to stop.

  • My prior knowledge of this mass suicide helped me to understand more of the main idea. The details implemented in this article, for example, the origin of the cult, the reason for moving to Guyana, and paranoia of unloyalty, made me understand more about the context in which the leader, Jim Jones, fulfilled his wishes. I’ve noticed a slight disruption in the numbers related to this article, a number of unclaimed bodies were 550 in the beginning of the article and was brought down to 500 toward the end of the article. I absolutely loved this article and enjoyed learning more about the most tragic event in American history.

  • I think most people have heard the term “drinking the Kool-Aid, ” but I don’t think many know where it originated from. This article was very informative and eye opening to those who are not aware of what happened in Guayana 1978. You did an excellent job at conveying the situation in Jonestown. I did not know that the Jonestown Massacre was the largest mass suicide in modern history and that it was also the biggest single loss of American lives in a non-natural disaster.

  • While the story was well written and informative about the massacre itself, I do wish it had included what sparked Jones to start this cult. I had only heard about this event before I read this article, which filled in all of the blanks for me. It is not hard to believe that people of color were desperate enough to join a cult to escape the terrors of the state they were currently living in. Heartbreakingly enough, Jones used this to his advantage for personal gain.

  • I find this article extremely shocking and I am surprised that I have not heard of this event before. It is devastating to know that some of the people were tricked or convinced into kill themselves. It is hard to imagine something happening like this not too long ago during the 1970’s when we had various ways to have prevented it.

  • I didn’t know about this case until I read this article and the first question coming to my mind is how this man, Jim Jones, has been able to convince 900 people to commit suicide. I am wondering what kind of man he was for his cult’s members. Probably a charismatic and eloquent speaker, in order to manipulate these people. I find this story truly upsetting and unfair, especially for the 260 children involved.

  • It boggles me how one man was able to convince over 900 people to commit suicide. How one man was able to convince parents that their children were safe and okay in a situation where this man was telling them to drink this “poison” and it would be okay. Your article was informative and it kept me interested the whole time. I knew a little bit about this event before reading this, but I wasn’t ever really interested in learning until now. I wonder how he was able to convince so many people to join and then eventually kill themselves and make an assassination on US government officials.

  • I really enjoyed reading this article! I hadn’t heard of the massacre prior to reading it and found it really interesting. I would, however, really like to know what happened before all this that made Jones start to cult, but I really liked how you went into detail explaining the day of the mass suicide. Overall, I thought it was very interesting and factual.

  • I loved this article, I heard a podcast over this tragedy that occured in Jonestown in high school. The leadership qualities that Jim Jones must have had are insane. I mean someone who could lead a group of people to move into a subpar living space, and then convince them all to move out of the country into even worse conditions. All to conclude with incurring them into a mass suicide is bewildering and tragic.

  • I find it to be frightening how one man was able to convince over 900 people to commit suicide all at once. Even more eerie was how Jim Jones got his followers to assassinate a U.S. Congressman. Jonestown is the perfect example of why one should think twice before joining a cult. Although I would have liked to read a bit more about how Jones was able to convert so many people to his cult, I enjoyed reading the article. Great job!

  • Lianna Ybarra did such an amazing job at being straight forward and telling us this infamous tale that took place in Jonestown. Before this article, I had heard of the incident but I didn’t know all the details or the events that led up to the mass suicide. A truly horrifying event, but nevertheless, history.
    Its crazy to believe how radically devoted his followers were that they would commit these acts. What is even more unbelievable is the man that was Jim Jones. Clearly he was so disturbed to the extent that he convinced his followers that the only way out of hardships was death.

  • Prior to this, I had heard of the massacre but it wasn’t until now that I’ve become exposed to what it was about. It was incredibly saddening to read about those lives lost in the Jonestown Massacre, either form this article or anywhere online/in books relating to the tragedy. This article was great and informing, as I could assume how brainwashed Jones had the people who were in his cult and how terrifying it must have been to witness. The entire situation is very tragic and it is upsetting that a resting place for lost lives is still not established.

  • What an interesting, well written article. It’s amazing to see how strong someone’s beliefs can become that it drives them to suicide. Of course they didn’t know that at this particular moment they were drinking cyanide. It would be interesting to know how many would have truly drank the cyanide willingly knowing it was their last act on earth. I’m not sure how our politicians would react to a situation like this today.

  • I first heard about this event in my history class my senior year of high school. It’s almost hard to believe the various things people will do when they have faith in something or someone. These people were so devoted to Jones that they willingly practiced mass suicides in order to prove loyalty. Many people may say they were crazy, but in some odd way I found this reading very fascinating. Just trying to grasp how these people became so brain washed is confusing yet interesting. This is a very tragic and sad event but also a very big learning opportunity for everyone.

  • By describing the setting that was present in Guayana, this article pulls the reader in and makes them want to find out more about this tragic event. I had never before heard of this historical event, so was very surprised to know about Jim Jones and his “utopia” Jonestown. It is very depressing to know that a group of people that had put their trust and belief into a person was later let down and eventually even lost their lives because of him.

  • Lianna Ybarra did a great introducing quotes and real testimonies showcasing her validity. The article was truly shocking; however, Ybarra writing style creates an objective tone. Her introduction builds up to the facts. Based on facts she tells the story of Jim Jones and his involvement in the death of over 900 innocent victims. I was not familiar with the Jamestown massacre Ybarra article was informative and remain without prejudice.

  • About a month ago I watched a documentary named Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. It was really tragic. One thing that struck me was how Congressman Ryan was willing to go into such a risky place for his constituency. It does makes me wonder one thing. How many politicians today would be willing to risk their lives for the Americans they represent?

  • This is truly a sad and horrifying article. Its crazy how Jim Jones took these many people and made them believe in his vision and as well made all of them loyal to him. So loyal that they would drink poison for their leader. It makes me think that if Jones followers were loyal enough to drink poison to show their loyalty were they even capable of shooting their leader ? Overall this was a very well written article that keeps the reader interested.

  • I find it interesting that the only other loss of American civilian lives as a result of non-natural causes or disasters as impactful as The Jonestown Massacre is the 9-11 terror attacks. Because each event was powered by radical faith. In the Jonestown case loyalty was to Jim Jones, but in the 9-11 attacks loyalty was being proven to terrorist group Al Qaeda. I also recognize the connection that suicide is the cause of death in these two tragic cases of American casualties.

  • I’ve never of this historical occurrence before, but thanks for the very educational piece. This article is so gripping, and enticing. I like how unbiased it is. This showed a side of humanity where people are willing to anything with the right manipulation. It was very eye-opening for me and how deceiving a political leader can be with cruel intent and no empathy in mind.

  • A wonderful article that stuck straight to the bare bones story regarding the situation that unfolded at Jonestown. Only thing I noticed was that it left out quite a bit of detail regarding the discrepancies in media reports and alleged CIA ties of certain individuals involved like Richard Dwyer, etc. I think it’s always important to incorporate the discrepancies of any story with heavy “hole seeking” research to further shape the publication’s truthful, but questioning appearance and nature. I believe with any story that there are more questions than answers and that those questions are often ignored, or never asked.

  • Articles can range in tone from comedic to informative. It is always good to have an article share hope and other upbeat emotions. For as much good news their is to be shared it is dark, shocking and informative articles that really inspire change. These types of articles shed light on topics and events that would not be widespread without the aid of articles and other news outlets. By this article informing the masses about a tragedy that occurred it is paving the way for others to prevent a similar event from occurring. Jonestown is just one of the many tragedies that occur in our world today. This article does well in not only informing us of the events in Guayana but has the potential to inspire others to act.

  • Although harrowing, this was a great read as I was thoroughly interested throughout. I find it shocking that Jim Jones was able to convince these innocent people to commit to his ideology and all of the sacrifices that came with it. I believe that all of the accusations towards Jones were true as no innocent man would flee the country when accused and then insist on having all of his peers commit suicide when worried of a revolt against him. I will always wonder if Jones also committed suicide or was shot by a fellow cult member before fleeing the scene of such a horrific disaster. A well written and informative piece.

  • Sometimes articles are fun and enjoyable to read, although a great article I would not call this an enjoyable read. This is a crazy story, and rather dark makes someone think about how they can just be doing there every day routine and have life change up on them so quickly. This does make somewhat of a horror story though, a very dark and interesting story too say the least. Excellent story, was also well written smooth and smooth.

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