• 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
Hollande says Brexit won't change Channel migrant deal
The Calais Jungle. Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday that the Brexit vote won't change border agreements between France and Britain.

Frenchman sentenced to jail time for burying dog alive
Photo: Pedro Dinis/Facebook

A man who buried his disabled dog alive, sparking social media fury in France, has been handed a jail sentence.

Le Thought du Jour
Post-Brexit: Could it benefit France to see the UK suffer?
Will Hollande benefit from the mess left behind by Cameron. Photo: AFP

The referendum result may have boosted Marine Le Pen and the growing anti-EU movement in France, but what has happened since may have taken the wind out their sails.

France 'probes new death threats' against Charlie Hebdo

A special French police unit has launched investigations after Charlie Hebdo magazine was subject to new death threats, according to reports in France.

Paris commuters face summer of transport headaches
Photo: AFP

Here are the train lines to avoid this summer if you're in Paris.

What's on in France: Eleven great things to do in July
Check out Provence's Lavender festivals in July. Photo: Ming-Yen Hsu/Flickr

We reckon July is by far the best month to be in France. Here's why.

Brexit
France wants Paris to profit from London's losses
Photo: AFP

Paris must take London's place as Europe's financial powerhouse once Brexit happens, a French minister says.

French foie gras industry warns of Christmas shortages
Photo: AFP

The foie gras industry in France is struggling to digest the consequences of the bird flu scare in its heartland.

Paris to honour Ireland's two sets of 'wonderful' fans
Photo: AFP

Fans of Ireland's "Boys in Green" and Northern Ireland's Green and White Army are to be given a special medal for bringing some joy to Euro 2016.

€5 to the coast? Ouibus rolls out new summer lines
Photo: Ouibus

Fancy heading to the coast for just €5 this summer?

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
New app aims to rid Paris pavements of dog poo
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
No more plastic bags! See what changes in France from July 2016
National
Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
2,762
jobs available