• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Fury as French teens get 'suicide note' homework

Dan MacGuill · 15 Feb 2013, 10:23

Published: 15 Feb 2013 10:23 GMT+01:00

A class of 12-year-olds at the Louis-Bouland de Couloisy school in the Oise department in northern France were told by their French teacher to compose a suicide note as a writing assignment, according to a report in French daily Le Parisien on Friday.

“John wrote a letter to his wife before carrying out his plan. Devise that letter,” said the assignment, shown to Le Parisien, before presenting a fictional description of the couple’s life and the aftermath of the man’s suicide.

The exercise has disgusted some parents, who have questioned the wisdom of presenting such a sensitive subject to young teenagers at a difficult time in their development.

One father explained: “My daughter came home from school on Tuesday evening and announced to us that [for her homework] she had to put herself in the position of a man who had killed himself, and write his suicide note. It’s absurd!” said the man, whose name has been changed to Nicolas.

For its part, the school has refused to comment publicly, but did hold an information meeting for the parents of the pupils in question, on Thursday evening.

Schools inspector for the Oise department, Elisabeth Laporte, has opened an internal investigation, but cautioned against judgment.

“You have to put this in context,” she told Le Parisien. “The account was a humorous piece of writing which was the subject of an assignment. But undoubtedly it could appear inappropriate or insensitive,” she said.

Nonetheless, Nicolas and his wife have notified police about the incident. “In light of all the stories about suicide becoming more widespread among young people, I don’t see what’s so funny about it,” he said.

This is not the first occasion a French teacher has assigned a suicide note as a writing exercise. In December, a teacher in western France was suspended after she instructed a class of 13 and 14-year-olds to "describe your self-disgust" in a final letter.

Story continues below…

Reacting to this week's incident in Oise, child psychiatrist Stéphane Clerget said on Friday  that while she understands the concerns of parents, the subject of suicide should not be treated as off-limits for young people.

"Their reactions reveal the anxiety that parents can have about the risk of suicide among adolescents. Must we never talk about suicide, though?" she told French daily Le Figaro.

"In particular, it's imperative that this kind of incident doesn't cover up the real causes of suicide among young people," Clerget said.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

2013-02-15 19:36:14 by John Phoof
Where can I go to read all comments on this article?
I am new and am just getting to know the site.
Today's headlines
Opinion
'France has problems but it's not on brink of civil war'
A French police officer stands in front of a Muslim prayer room after it was destroyed by a fire, suspected to be arson, in Ajaccio.. Photo: AFP

While certain French politicians and security chiefs have openly talked of the nightmare prospect of civil war in France, one expert tells The Local the country is too resolute to go down that path.

What's on: Ten cool things to do in France in August 2016
Photo: AFP

August is almost here - and we've got you covered for events.

Paris in August: Should you stay or should you go now?
Photo: AFP

When it comes to August in Paris, you're either a stayer or a goer. But which is the best choice?

French PM: 'France needs new relationship with Islam'
Photo: AFP

As France struggles to get to grips with an increasing number of terror attacks the French PM says the country needs a new relationship with Islam.

France's Muslims urged to attend mass in solidarity
Photo: AFP

A leading Muslim group in France has called on its community to attend a church mass this Sunday to show solidarity with Christians after the recent jihadist killing of a priest.

Hopes hit as France reports 'disappointing' zero growth
Photo: AFP

Hopes of small economic growth in France were hit on Friday when the latest GDP figures were announced.

Air France strike affects 30,000 passengers each day
Photo: AFP

The week-long Air France cabin crew strike continued on Friday with some 30,000 passengers hit by cancellations each day.

Mother of French priest killer left stunned and in denial
Photo: AFP

French police have formally identified the second attacker who killed a priest in northern France on Tuesday. And his mother has said he was her "gentle child".

Johnson hails France in Paris (while speaking French)
French Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault (R) shakes hands with Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson (L). Photo: AFP

VIDEO: A British Foreign Minister who speaks French. Fancy that.

Should you really go to the Bayonne Festival?
A bullfighter and a crowd at this year's festival. Photo: AFP

Should people boycott the Bayonne festival in France because it features bullfighting? Many think so.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
France: A timeline of terror since the Charlie Hebdo attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
2,757
jobs available