French teacher suspended over suicidal essay request

Bordeaux, France:  A French teacher who asked her students to write an essay in which they imagined themselves as a suicidal teenager has been suspended pending an investigation, education officials said on Monday.

The teacher, who works at the Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard secondary school in the Charente region of western France, will discover next week if she is to face disciplinary action following an outcry among parents over a composition she reportedly set for her class of 13- and 14-year-olds.

According to local newspaper La Charente Libre, the teacher asked the pupils to imagine themselves as an 18-year-old who had taken an irrevocable decision to end his or her life.

"You decided at the last minute to explain your reasons," she said. "Drawing a self-portrait, you will describe your self-disgust. Your text will go over the events in your life that created this feeling."

The teacher was suspended following an anonymous letter from parents which asked: "What will be the next subject -- how do you feel when you shoot up?"

Jean-Marie Renault, the academic director of the Charente region, confirmed the teacher had been suspended and would be asked to explain what she was trying to do.

"If it is true that the question of suicide was posed in the terms reported, one could only be surprised, to say the least," he said.

Story First Published: December 10, 2012 22:43 IST

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