The mysterious mass suicide of 11 members of a family from Burari in New Delhi has the entire nation gripped. With each passing day, the deaths are becoming increasingly baffling. Every day, new secrets tumble out from the house of horror where the entire Bhatia family inexplicably took their own lives by hanging themselves. Circumstantial evidence points to the possibility of a suicide pact with a mystical angle. But despite investigators’ best efforts, mystery still shrouds the reason why all members of this seemingly normal middle-class family decided to commit mass suicide. While people search for answers, we have compiled a list of 7 of the most creepy mass suicides from around the world that still remain a mystery and continue to haunt us to date.
1) Town of Demmin, 1945
Nearing the end of World War 2 back in 1945, almost 1000 people, mostly women, and children, from the German town of Demmin took their own lives. It is believed that they didn’t want to fall into the clutches of the Russian army marching on Berlin as Hitler’s Third Reich collapsed. People used everything from guns to razor blades and poison, slaughtering their own children and loved ones instead of enduring the pain and humiliation from a ruthless army known for committing inhumane atrocities. Although the exact death toll was never ascertained, it is believed to be the largest mass suicide ever recorded in Germany.
2) People’s Temple, 1978
How far will you go following a religious leader’s footsteps? For some 900 odd members of the now infamous cult of People’s Temple, even death wasn’t a step too far. On the fateful evening of November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Guyana, 909 members of this cult and its leader Jim Jones killed themselves at his instructions. Among the victims were 276 children. In an attempt to escape fascism, the congregation drank a deadly cyanide-laced grape flavored drink. To kill their kids, parents were instructed to inject them with the same poisonous drink.
3) Solar Temple, 1994
Some twenty years ago, the otherwise peaceful nation of Switzerland made headlines for all the wrong reasons when numerous members of a religious cult by the name of Solar Temple committed suicide. In what can only be described as a gruesome scene straight out of a horror movie, burnt bodies of 74 of the sect’s members were found in Switzerland, Canada and then France. Several had been shot in the head or asphyxiated, and many had been drugged, in what were apparently ritual murders. That said, many were found to be willing participants in the supposed mass suicides. The two founders of the Solar Temple, Luc Jouret, and Jo Di Mambro were among the dead. It is believed that they convinced their followers that they must die by burning in order to attain salvation.
4) Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists, 1993
This was a sect created back in 1959 when one guy announced the second coming of Jesus on a Texas hilltop (which obviously never happened). But like most cults that are delusional and blindly follow their leaders, members were unfazed. Over time, more people joined in but in 1993 the FBI got a tip that the sect’s activities were murky. Fearing arrest, members barricaded themselves in and when FBI attempted to subdue them with tear gas, they lit their own building on fire and 76 people committed mass suicide.
5) Heaven’s Gate, 1997
All of USA was rocked back in 1997 when the nation witnessed what appeared to be one of the largest mass suicides in the country. On a tipoff, the police department in San Diego stumbled upon the gory site of 39 corpses — 21 women and 18 men ranging in age from 26 to 72, all members of a Star Trek inspired cult by the name of Heaven’s Gate. All of the dead had shorn heads, were dressed alike and carried the exact amount of money in their pockets. A video left behind by the cult members explained that they were “exiting their human vessels” and going onboard an extraterrestrial-piloted spaceship.
6) Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, 2000
A deeply religious Ugandan group of over 1,000 people that believed the doomsday is coming committed suicide and shocked the world in March of 2000. According to the group’s interpretation of biblical scriptures, they believed that the beginning of 2000 would mark the start of a “new world” where the kingdom of God would begin and everything else will be destroyed. When this prophecy failed to materialize on January 1, 2000, members started leaving the group. In a state of panic, the group’s leader set aside March 17, 2000 as the date for the beginning of a “new world”. When the day arrived, there were celebrations followed by a great feast but soon after, the entire communion exploded and all inhabitants burned to death. It was uncovered that the cult’s leaders planned the mass murder and suicide, and boarded up the doors and windows of the church to prevent anyone inside from escaping when they set it on fire.
7) Burari, 2018
And finally, in a bone-chilling incident reported from the capital of India, 11 members of Bhatia family in Burari were found hanging inside their own house with their limbs tied and faces covered. The only one found alive in the house was the family dog, Jacky, who had been left on the terrace. Ruling out the possibility of murder, investigators are relying on multiple diaries found in the house that have detailed instructions for “mass salvation”, including how hangings should be conducted. Prima facie it seems the Bhatias followed the instructions as is, even conducting a “havan” hours before committing suicide. Despite all the clues, police is yet not able to ascertain how no relative had even an inkling of what was going on inside the Bhatia household. Another question is how the teenaged children were convinced to partake in the gruesome act? And finally, if they were planning on committing mass suicide on a date they had set aside, why did the family fix their eldest daughter’s wedding and even celebrated her engagement?
Mysterious as these may be, all of these incidents are highly unfortunate. One can only wonder what went on in the minds of these victims and what drove them to take such an extreme step. Let’s just hope that we don’t witness a repeat of these sad incidents in the future.
If you or someone you know is distressed and showing suicidal tendencies, talk to someone to seek help or reach out to a suicide helpline. Remember, suicide is never the answer.