Suicide among World Leaders

Today, May 23, former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his death.

The only other world leader known to have committed suicide in this way was Chechoslovakian President, Jan Masaryk (1948) – though many believe that he was actually murdered.

Throughout history, 538 world leaders have been murdered; but only 68 have commited suicide (only 0.58% of all deaths in this group).  In other words, the ratio of murders to suicides is eight-to-one.

Details are given for 49 suicides in this particular “profession” – the preferred method being gunshot (20 cases).  Eight others died of drug overdose, six using knives or other sharp objects, and five by hanging.

Among the more bizarre methods used, Roman Ruler Cato the Younger (died 44 B.C.E.) killed himself by pulling his intestines out through a battle injury; while Cleopatra VII (30 B.C.E.) is said to have exposed herself to the bite of an asp.  Four additional Roman rulers of the period committed “suicide by proxy” – having themselves killed by servants.

A single ruler, Ludwig II of Bavaria, has the dubious distinction of being the only world leader to drown himself (in 1886).

A comprehensive, interactive source for all diseases and deaths – in  all famous persons – is available at

These lists are from, an interactive website that follows the diseases and deaths of all famous persons.  Lists include famous animals, singers, politicians, sports heroes, movie stars, serial killers … over 13,000 to date.   Users can access the medical history of a single person; or generate a list based on disease, profession, year of death – or any combination.   Or access expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.