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The Phenomenon of Mass Suicide

In November of 1978, 913 people out of 1,100 people committed suicide in Guyana in a settlement called Jonestown. This settlement was ruled by a person named Jim Jones. He held psychological control over the inhabitants.
If Jim Jones had been profiled before Senator Leo Ryan and members of his party were killed, would there have been such an incident? Discuss the following in your response in 1750-2500 words:
Would there have been a mass suicide?
What would cause hundreds of people to willingly take poison?
What would have been the constitutional ramifications of profiling Jim Jones before such an incident?
Could there have been a cursory profile based on newspaper accounts of the People's Temple?

Provide references in APA style

Solution Preview

http://www.apa.org/monitor/nov03/jonestown.aspx
http://bernie.cncfamily.com/sc/fbi_report.htm
http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=16597

If Jim Jones had been profiled before Senator Leo Ryan and members of his party were killed, would there have been such an incident? Discuss the following in your response in 1750-2500 words:

Would there have been a mass suicide?

It's difficult to play Monday morning quaterback in a scenario such as this because of the many underlying issues that are present. First and foremost, the ability of Jim Jones to portray a reputable institution was well documented as his organization received accolades and praise from the likes of politicians and public leaders from across the political spectrum. Jones was offered appointments to the Human Rights Commission, served on the Housing Authority Commission, was named one of the nation's 100 outstanding clergymen, worked for the Democratic Party caucuses in 1975 and was a recipient of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian of the Year award in 1977. He played a critical role in the election of Mayor Moscone and was heavily involved in San Francisco politics.

These variables were mentioned in the previous paragraph because of the fact that most outsiders didn't learn about the risk factors associated with Jim Jones until he had already relocated his congregation. Risk factors such as the propensity for the religious organization headed by Jones to engage in violence that marked a significant shift in the group's attitude, orientation, and behavior, which had a history of violent episodes toward those associated with the church through the use of violence to discipline. In addition, outsiders who bestowed upon Jones those accolades mentioned in the first paragraph were unaware of Jones history of mental illness, drug abuse, and increasing amounts of paranoia. These were primarily known only by those within the church, and those that dissented were effectively prevented from telling the truth about the organization.

The signals that indicated Jones increased paranoia such as suddenly preaching about impending doom and reversing the church's initial direction, which focused on helping the community were well kept secrets as this was hidden from the outside world. The many instances of violence within the group that included sexual abuse, physical abuse, and other forms of psychological abuse weren't privy to outsiders, which is why the preacher received all the above mentioned accolades despite these issues occurring during the years ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses a case of mass suicide.

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