10 Troubled Historical Figures Who Committed Suicide

Qu Yuan. Google Images

Qu Yuan

Equally shrouded in legend was the tragic end of the Chinese poet, politician and patriot Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan lived in the third century BC in the kingdom of Chu in central China. This period was one of great turmoil, with the various states that would become modern China involved in wars and conquests of each other. Qu Yuan advised his king not to attack the neighboring kingdom of Qin, as he feared the effect of reprisals on the Chu. But the king was dissuaded from heeding his wise minister by others who were jealous of Qu Yuan’s’ influence. Qu Yuan was banished- and the Chu attacked Qin.

The Qin general, Bai Qi, retaliated and attacked and conquered the Chu. In 278BC, he captured the Chu capital and deposed Qu Yuan’s’ king.  Bai Qi again exiled Qu Yuan.  The ex-minister tried to console himself with poetry, but his depression over the conquest of his beloved country was deep.

Some accounts say that the final blow to Qu Yuan came when he realized the ordinary people of Chu didn’t much care about their conquest. One king was very much the same as another to them. Others believe it was the continued slanders against his reputation that wore him down.

But either way, Qu Yuan finally waded into the River Miluo, weighed down with a rock and drowned himself. People never found his body. But anxious local villagers paddled out in boats to try and save him. When they realized they were too late, they attempted to drive away fish from his corpse by tossing rice into the river and agitating the waters. The annual Dragon Boat Festival serves as a commemoration of the race to save the suicidal Qu Yuan on the anniversary of his death.


  • Corey O’Brien

    the author of this article undoubtedly did their homework. however, they seriously need a proof-reader

    • John Manaugh

      Seems as if most sites similar to this one need to hire proof-readers. Some articles are written so poorly that it makes me question the facts presented.

      • Stephanie Shapiro

        same here! Very annoying

      • Corey O’Brien

        with all due respect, I’ve no complaint regarding the “facts”. but the writing itself is rather bad

      • Corey O’Brien

        I have no problem with the “facts”. just the structure of the article. some of it reads rather awkwardly. a proof-reader is all she needs

    • Stephanie Shapiro

      lol, I was thinking the SAME THING!

  • Natasha Sheldon

    Could you point out what you regard as the problem?

    • Corey O’Brien

      I’m sure if you re-read your article, you will see the mistakes I see– mainly grammar and some awkward sentence structuring . I’m not by any stretch trying to be insulting at all. I, myself, am a historian and read way too much and even write a bit on it. I am obsessive about presenting the most coherent argument I possibly can. I owe that to my college professors who constantly berated me to “clean up” my work. once I got people to read-over my work, my writing became a bit stronger and my arguments more coherent.

      thanks for responding, Natasha.

      • Natasha Sheldon

        i have re read the article, Corey. Aside from some mispaced punctuation, i do not see any grammatical errors. my style may not be to your taste. but i do dispute accusations of ungrammatical writing.

      • Natasha Sheldon

        but thanks for your feedback (and not insulted at all!)

  • Вікторія Торон

    Unfortunately Petronius didn’t have the last laugh. Although his favorite slave took her life together with her muster the rest of the slaves (as I remember) were crucified by infuriated