Mass Suicides Timeline
March 22, 1997 in St. Casimir, Quebec,
five members of the Order of the Solar Temple die in a fiery mass suicide. Cult devotees
believe suicide transports them to a new life on a planet called Sirius. Over the past
three years, murder-suicides by Temple followers have resulted in 74 deaths in Europe and
Dec. 23, 1995 16 members of the Order of the Solar Temple were found dead
in a burned house outside Grenoble, in the French Alps. Most of the bodies were arranged
in a star shape on the floor.
Oct. 5, 1994 Swiss authorities found the bodies of 48 people linked to
the cult in a farmhouse and three chalets, all consumed by fire. Five more bodies were
found the same year in Morin Heights, north of Montreal.
April 19, 1993 Branch Davidian leader David Koresh
and 80 followers -- including 18 children -- died by fire or gunfire, six hours after the
FBI started filling their cult compound near Waco, Texas, with tear gas. The government
called the deaths a mass suicide in fires set by cult members after a 51-day armed
Dec. 13, 1990 in Tijuana, Mexico, 12 people die in a religious ritual,
apparently after drinking a poisoned sacrament. It was never clearly established if this
was a suicide and authorities speculated the deaths might have been accidental. They said
some kind of industrial alcohol, perhaps rubbing alcohol, was poured into a fruit punch
the participants shared during the religious ceremony.
Nov. 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, more than 900
followers of the Rev. Jim Jones died after he ordered them to drink cyanide-laced grape
punch. Jones, who was found dead with a bullet wound in the head, led the Peoples Temple
in San Francisco and moved it to Guyana. In the United States, the Peoples Temple ran a
free clinic, a drug rehabilitation program and performed other charitable functions. Jones
also had been chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority in 1976.