Have any post-10th century Heads of State committed suicide while still in office?

I’m curious. Some have killed themselves after they left office (like Roh Moo Hyun), and some were ancient leaders, but have any ‘modern’ heads of state done the act while still…well, heading the state?

Dipendra of Nepal killed himself, though he did so after killing his father the former king of Nepal on July 1, 2001. He actually ruled for about 3 days, but was in a coma, so his rule was hardly effective. Does that count?

Budd Dwyer up in PA committed suicide in the middle of a press conference… he was state treasurer…



Getúlio Vargas did. He committed suicide in 1954.

Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva [del]Braun[/del] Hitler killed themselves a few hours after marrying in the last days of the Third Reich.

Everybody knows he’s hanging out with John Dillinger and Elvis at the South Pole.

Salvador Allende probably committed suicide.

[Deleted link already provided by bibliophage]

Ludwig II of Bavaria, although there is some question over that.

Adolf Friedrich VI, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who killed himself in 1918.

Because Guinastasia stole my entry, I’ll steal it back by noting that Ludwig wasn’t quite a head of state at the time of his death (even setting aside his deposition the day before). Fifteen years earlier, Bavaria under Ludwig had joined the new German Empire, which was dominated by the Prussian political establishment. Wikipedia tells me that the Empire coined the money and, although Bavaria had an army, it was under imperial command. (The throne of Bavaria did continue after Ludwig’s death until the Empire dissolved into the Weimar Republic after the First World War.)


Similar comments would surely apply to the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz?

I’m a bit unclear as to the exact constutional arrangements that prevailed in the German Empire from 1871 to 1919. The predecessor states continued to function in many respects, and certainly treated one another as sovereign entities, even to the point of exchanging embassies. But I don’t know to what extent this was simply window-dressing.

Yes, certainly.

I don’t know much about this either. I just happened to think of the example of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz because he and his family were very close to the British royal family. I remember reading that King George V and Queen Mary paid a visit to Strelitz just before the outbreak of WWI, in order to visit the Dowager Grand Duchess (Queen Mary’s beloved Aunt Augusta).

In the German Empire, a state of the Empire had almost complete power over its internal structure and laws, unless there was a specific Imperial law contradicting it. The Empire governed foreign affairs, diplomacy and controlled the navy. The Empire also controlled the Army general staff and oversight, but individual unit regulation was left up to the individual states.

In addition, some states had been granted special rights/exceptions to the general law when they joined the Empire, and Prussia had certain special rights because its King was also Emperor.

Tewodros II of Ethiopia

Possible suicide: Harold Holt, prime minister of Australia. In 1967, he was involved in (directly or indirectly) a lot of political scandal. He was out boating with friends and decided to go swimming in one rough area (a favorite of his), against his friends’ pleas because of the strong waves, and disappeared. No body was found. Speculation included suicide and faking his disappearance.

President Antonio Guzmán Fernández of the Dominican Republic shot himself in 1982, while still in office.


Four post in and this thread is already “Godwinized”. :slight_smile:

Prime Ministers are not Heads of State, they are heads of government. The Head of State in Australia derives from the Monarchy and is notionally the Queen, although her representative the Governor-General is the Head of State for almost all practical purposes.

In any event, the suicide theory is pretty far-fetched. The overwhelming likelihood is that he drowned while surfing. Uncommon but not rare.