• France's news in English

French teacher dies after setting self on fire

AFP · 14 Oct 2011, 16:34

Published: 14 Oct 2011 16:34 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A French maths teacher who doused herself in petrol and set herself on fire in front of pupils, died on Friday of her injuries, police and a hospital source said.

The 44-year-old was hospitalised on Thursday after walking onto the playground of a high school in the southern city of Beziers with a jerry can of fuel and starting a blaze that left her with third-degree burns.

She staggered across the yard in front of her horrified students, some of whom joined teachers in rushing to her aid.

She was taken by helicopter to a specialist burns unit at the university teaching hospital in nearby Montpellier, but doctors could not save her.

"(The teacher) had third-degree burns over 95 percent of her body," a hospital source told AFP. "With these burns there was no way she could have survived."

Parents and pupils who spoke to AFP at the scene on Thursday said the teacher had a difficult relationship with several pupils in her maths class and that a meeting with them to clear the air on Wednesday had become rowdy.

On Friday morning, her colleagues staged a small protest outside the school in "solidarity" with their colleague, whom they identified as "Lise".

"Her gesture calls on all staff to show their solidarity and underlines the difficulty we have in carrying out our duties. We expect the authorities to act responsibly," the teachers said in a statement, brandishing signs reading "Never Again".

After news of her death emerged, one of the teachers, Christophe Quittet, said a silent march would be held in her memory departing on Monday afternoon from the school.

France's National Education Minister Luc Chatel expressed "deep sadness," in a statement issued as her death was announced, calling the episode "a distressing ordeal."

A psychological crisis cell was treating shocked students at the Jean Moulin secondary school, a sprawling establishment with more than 3,000 students and 280 teachers.

Top local education official Christian Philip said the school had reopened its doors on Friday morning for those seeking to talk about the tragedy but that all classes remained suspended until at least Monday.

Traumatised students were being assisted by a psychological crisis cell, he said, and about 80 students had already been treated. The cell was to stay in place until at least Tuesday.

Story continues below…

In a joint statement, unions representing secondary school teachers said the incident underscored the hardships facing teachers and called for a public debate on working conditions.

Noting the "significance of the choice of the workplace to commit this desperate act," the unions called on Chatel to organise public consultations on "the realities" of teaching work.

"We must be aware of what is being called teachers' fatigue, professional problems, of the suffering at work that, while we see it in other professions, is more and more present within the education system," the unions said.

Local prosecutor Patrick Mathe said an initial investigation had found "no criminal act" connected with the incident.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available