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Despair Event Horizon / Real Life

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  • The Imperial Japanese military became increasingly desperate as the Allies began to draw the noose around the Home Islands. They recommended a Last Stand on a national scale, and began training schoolchildren to fight with sticks, but when the Emperor supported the decision to surrender, many military officers chose seppuku as an alternative, inclusive of those officers who tried to stop the Emperor's broadcast and continue fighting without his Majesty's approval only to be arrested.
  • Adolf Hitler, when he realized that the Allies in the West and the Soviets in the East were closing in on him, and there was no chance for him to win because Steiner was not able to muster up the forces to repel the Russians. He ordered his forces to fight to the last man and burn Germany to the ground to deny the Allies of anything. Hitler knowing his work throughout his years were All for Nothing, eventually committed suicide.
    • According to interviews with those in the Furhrerbunker, when Hitler got the news that Himmler had defected to the Allied Powers, Hitler completely lost it and knew that the war was over. He was reportedly so deranged that all he desired was to at least capture and punish Himmler's very opportunistic adjutant and his brother-in-law, Hermann Fegelein.
  • The Samson option is essentially a plan for what'll happen if Israel crosses this: Give up on the world entirely, then take a chunk with it with them by way of launching every nuke they have, at what could be every nation that's ever wronged them.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, when his son Quentin died in World War One. His health, held together for most of his life solely by sheer unfettered willpower, began failing almost immediately, and never recovered. His Death by Despair followed less than a year later.
    • He had already come close to this thirty years earlier when his wife and his mother died on the same day: Valentine's Day 1884. He wrote in his diary "The light has gone out of my life."
  • Franklin Pierce's poor performance as U.S. President is said to possibly have a connection to the tragic death of his last surviving son on a train crash.
  • Many of "the Projects" in the US from the 1960s fell into this. Now many of the people living in them have no hope of ever improving their lives. The sad part is there are now up to 4 generations who have lived this way.
    • The housing agencies in many cities are demolishing the high-rise projects and replacing them with developments of single-family homes. Whether this will make a difference remains to be seen.
  • Jason Russell dealt with massive amounts of criticism from Ugandans and internet goers of the viral video "Kony 2012" for his organization's handling of finances and purpose of helping Ugandans. Then personal attacks against his Evangelical Christian background came to light and he completely lost it.
  • Chris Hedges, an influential left-wing columnist and former Pulitzer-winning war correspondent, has been accused of using his more recent writings to pull readers into his own Despair Event Horizon, especially with regards to corporate power and environmentalism.
  • Ravens usually mate in monogamous pairs for life. If one of the pair dies, it isn't uncommon for the other member to become despondent, sometimes even to the point of deliberately starving themselves to death. "Quoth the raven, 'nevermore.'"
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  • The argument that the "you break the enemy's morale, and you can achieve victory even without military success" manifestation of this trope was successfully invoked by the Entente against Hindenburg, Ludendorff and the German High Command in general at the close of World War One was a major contributor to promoting the "stab in the back" legend and Hitler's subsequent rise to power.
  • The American Civil War:
    • Historians speculate that the Battle of Gettysburg was the horizon for the Union, though it was ultimately not crossed. They had superior troop strength, economy and manufacturing over the Confederacy, but at that point, public opinion was against the war and morale was extremely low. Conversely, the Confederacy had absolute faith in their leadership, as Lee had led them to victory after victory. It is thought that if the Union had lost that battle, it would have been the beginning of the end and the nation would have been forced to sue for peace.
    • Some historians have discussed the prospect of the Emancipation Proclamation being this for the Confederacy. One of the major goals of the Confederate Army was earning recognition and aid from European powers. When the Proclamation emerged, it transformed what had up until then looked like a war of reunification into a crusade to end slavery - which absolutely dashed any hope of Europe backing the Confederacy (any nation that did would be tacitly supporting human bondage). That did severe damage to morale, but it got even worse as the common soldiers realized defending slavery would be worthless to them - slaves cost hundreds of dollars, well beyond the average Southerner's reach (this is where we get the term "A rich man's war, but a poor man's fight"). It's worth noting that desertions skyrocketed after the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Bill Simmons frequently discusses this regarding sports fans, as he has experience being from Boston (before all four teams became victorious in the 2000s, all had droughts made even more unbearable by disheartening defeats - even the post-Larry Bird Celtics). He wrote the "Levels of Losing" regarding how bad a defeat can be, and also listed "tortured teams" making it clear they have to go past the Despair Event Horizon to qualify:
    You need to be just pessimistic enough to keep your guard up for a sucker punch but just optimistic enough to keep lowering your guard at the worst possible time."
  • The first President of Brazil, Deodoro da Fonseca suffered a biblical one after being impeached (which he took very personally). To give some context, Deodoro was known as a Boisterous Bruiser jokester and Fun Personified to his friends, described as "lion-hearted". But after his impeachment, Deodoro locked himself in his house and spent his days rotting away in a chair, smoking his already damaged lungs away. He forbid anyone in a military uniform to ever enter his house (keeping in mind he used to be a bonafide, very patriotic war-hero). He died less than six months later.
  • Some people wrongly believe that Friedrich Nietzsche preached this trope as a philosophy, but that's not quite true. A much better "religion of despair" can be found in the writings of his inspiration and predecessor, Arthur Schopenhauer.
  • It's generally agreed upon that Chris Benoit crossed this threshold after the death of his best friend Eddie Guerrero. Benoit had a number of personal problems, such as drug abuse, injuries, mental illness, and a turbulent marriage, on top of all the other friends he had already lost, including Owen Hart, Brian Pillman, and Big Boss Man. Eddie, however, was the breaking point; according to close friends and his own journals, Benoit never moved on from best friend's death. After that, it was just a downward spiral of self-destruction that eventually led to Benoit murdering his wife and son before committing suicide.
  • Frank Butler crossed it following the death of Annie Oakley. After her death, he had her body burned and died of suicide by self-starvation within two and a half weeks or so. In the interim, Oakley's ashes were placed in one of her trophies, one of few relics she still retained from her sharpshooting career in her twilight years, and after Butler's death, his body and her ashes were buried together in Brock Cemetery.


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