• France edition
 
Fury as French teens get 'suicide note' homework
File photo: Cali4beach/Flickr

Fury as French teens get 'suicide note' homework

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

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
France weighs medicine sales at supermarkets
Could medicine soon be available in supermarkets in France? Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP

France weighs medicine sales at supermarkets

France’s top financial watchdog says it’s time to end the monopoly pharmacies have on selling over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol as well as cold and flu remedies. The watchdog believes introducing competition will bring down prices. READ  

Air Algérie crash: pilots asked to 'turn back'
This photo shows debris of the Air Algerie Flight AH 5017 scattered at the crash site in Mali's Gossi region, west of Gao, on July 26, 2014. Photo: AFP

Air Algérie crash: pilots asked to 'turn back'

France was mourning on Monday as authorities revealed the pilots aboard the Air Algérie flight had asked permission to turn back just before the jet went down, killing 118 people. Bad weather has been increasingly blamed for the accident. READ  

Imperiled Iraqi Christians offered asylum in France
France has offered asylum to Iraqi Christians displaced by islamist militants. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP

Imperiled Iraqi Christians offered asylum in France

France has offered asylum to thousands of Christians in Iraq displaced by threats and violence from the jihadists who have invaded portions of the country. The islamists have given Christians the ultimatum of convert or leave. READ  

Two Irish montaineers killed on Mont Blanc
Two climbers incuding one Irishman were killed in a fall on Mont Blanc on Sunday. Photo: Philippe Merle/AFP

Two Irish montaineers killed on Mont Blanc

Two Irishmen were killed in after slipping and falling in the Mont Blanc range on Sunday. It comes after an American businessman outraged French authorities for trying to scale the mountain with his young children. READ  

Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens
Another Parisian rat. Photo: Jean-Jacques Boujot.

Tourists picnic with rats in Louvre gardens

VIDEO: The lawns of the Louvre, a favourite picnic haunt of tourists and Parisians, are offering visitors a real-life Ratatouille experience after being invaded by rodents. READ  

France's Muslims mark the end of 'holiest month'
France's Muslims will mark the end of holiest month on Monday. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

France's Muslims mark the end of 'holiest month'

France’s Muslim population, which is the largest in Europe, will end on Monday its holiest festival of the year: Ramadan. However, the date is not without controversy due to the unique way the annual rite’s duration is chosen. READ  

Lion wounds 16-month-old child at French circus
A lion injured a child at a French circus. Photo: Alexandre Imamura/Flickr

Lion wounds 16-month-old child at French circus

A lion reached out of its cage and scratched a 16-month-old girl at a circus in France on Sunday, injuring the child's head and back. The news came the same day as a not guilty verdict for the owner of a circus elephant that killed an elderly pétanque player. READ  

Marseille: Pro-Israel march held amid tension
Thousands march in support of Israel in Marseille. Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP

Marseille: Pro-Israel march held amid tension

Up to 6,000 demonstrators marched through the French city of Marseille on Sunday in support of Israel. The rally was held amid tight security as dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters tried to disrupt the demonstration. READ  

French nationals told to flee chaos in Libya
Libyan security services and civilians gather across the street after a car bomb attack on the French embassy in Tripoli, Libya on April 23rd, 2013. Photo: Mahmud Turkia/AF

French nationals told to flee chaos in Libya

France has warned its nationals to leave Libya due to the worsening security situation there and the threat of terror attacks. French warnings come amid similar calls for evacuation from other European nations and the United States. READ  

Italian Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France
Italy's Vincenzo Nibali (R) wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey toasts champagne with Astana teammates. Photo: Jean-Paul Pelissier/AFP

Italian Nibali wins 2014 Tour de France

Italian Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France on Sunday after the final stage that ended on the famous Champs-Elysees avenue. Frenchmen Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot finished second and third. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why you should think twice about feeding stray cats in France
National
And the new redrawn map of France will look like...?
Politics
Is French President François Hollande about to tie the knot?
International
Want a long-term visa? You may soon have to take a French test
International
Votes for foreigners: 'France would be giving up its sovereignty'
National
VIDEO: Stuntman jumps onto a moving Paris metro... and survives
Gallery
Forget 'faire l'amour', here's 15 top French expressions for making love
National
Report - 'Anti-Semitic' riots in France: 'We may leave for Israel'
National
Paris Plages: Here's 10 reasons to head down to the city beach
International
'Mont Blanc is like Disneyland. It's time to end the free-for-all'
Travel
Fancy climbing Mont Blanc? Here's 10 reasons to think twice about it
Gallery
Looking for a weird museum in Paris? Here's 10 that are worth a visit
National
Clear your head: Eight tips for buying wine in a French supermarket
National
'Don't blame the labour market for France's unemployment woes!'
National
Job applicants in France: Be prepared to send in an anonymous CV
Sport
'Bouligans' to booze bans: Ten things you need to know about pétanque
Gallery
Driving in France: How to stay out of trouble on the roads
Travel
Ten essential free phone apps for a visit to Paris
Gallery
Like cycling? Love France? See the top ten best cycling routes in France
International
'They think beer is a vegetable': What the French really think of Germans
National
Sarkozy's dream of a 2017 comeback is not dead yet
Gallery
Ten reasons why France is better than Germany (we're not talking football)
Gallery
Paris in Summer: Ten things to do on a shoestring
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se