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Remembering the tragedy of Jonestown, 35 years ago today

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Credit Jonestown Institute
Credit Jonestown Institute

Today marks the 35th anniversary of one of the deadliest days in US history. On November 18th, 1978, over 900 people died in the largest mass-suicide of modern times. The events took place in Jonestown, Guyana, a community founded by members of the US-based utopian socialist cult the Peoples Temple. Incited by their leader Jim Jones, members consumed a cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid or Kool-Aid drink in what is described as a ritual suicide. In an interview with the BBC World Service rereleased today, one Jonestown survivor speaks frankly on her experiences at Jonestown. The Atlantic also spoke with a survivor for a separate 2011 article.

A moving and occasionally disturbing look behind the scenes of a modern-day tragedy, the interviews serve as a harsh reminder of the events that led to such a bizarre loss of life. At one point in The Atlantic's interview, the survivor, Teri Buford O'Shea, is asked how she feels about society's casual appropriation of the phrase "drink the Kool-Aid"; "it makes me shudder," came O'Shea's reply.