Part 1: the daughter of the Leipzig burgomaster in April, 1945.
The end of Das tausendjährigen Reiches was hard for Nazi true believers, their families, and those in the path of the Red Army:
This suicidal impulse was not confined to the Nazi elite. Ordinary Germans in untold numbers responded to the prospect of defeat in the same way. At the Berlin Philharmonic’s last performance, which coincidentally but not too surprisingly was Götterdämmerung, the audience was given potassium cyanide pills. In April 1945 there were 3,881 recorded suicides in Berlin, nearly twenty times the figure for March. Untold numbers of victims of rape by the Soviet Red Army also committed suicide, and news of violence and rape further propelled mass suicides in villages all over Germany.It was a wave of death, washing over the civilian population of Germany. You might say that it was a mass impulse.
Part 2. The mob: the flip side of the coin.
In Seattle in 2001, a 26-year-old woman who had recently ended a relationship held up traffic for a little too long as she considered the implications of leaping to her death. As motorists began to back-up on the bridge and become irate, they started yelling “Jump, bitch, jump!” until she did.You Are Not So Smart looks at why police rope off the areas around someone who might jump; it's not to keep spectators from becoming an impromptu landing pad, it's to keep them out of shouting distance. The crowd members have a tendency of losing their individuality, at which point the crowd becomes a mob.
Read both, and think especially on this part:
The risk of a spontaneous cheering section goading a person into killing themselves is high when people in a group feel anonymous and are annoyed or angry. It only takes one person to get the crowd going. Those are the three ingredients – anonymity, group size and arousal. If you lose your sense of self, feel the power of a crowd and then get slammed by a powerful cue from the environment – your individuality may evaporate.Then think on the Internet, and anonymous blog comments. Let's remember, and keep our humanity.