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Teachers Can’t Afford to Make Light of Suicide

teens

I am sure many will fiercely oppose my view that a teacher who asked her students to write an essay from the perspective of someone about to commit suicide, should not be suspended.

Whilst I am of the belief that suicide should not be taken lightly in the classroom, I can understand the intention of the teacher and can see the benefit of exploring themes of self-esteem, frustration, self-loathing and loneliness, all of which can be conjured up through this essay topic.

A teacher has been suspended after asking a class full of teenagers to write suicide notes.

The man, who has not been named, is a French teacher at the Antoine-Delafont school in Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard, near Angouleme, France.

He told the 13 to 14 year olds to imagine what they would say to themselves if they were about to end their lives out of ‘disgust’ for their lives.

The assignment, set in October, read : ‘You’ve just turned 18. You’ve decided to end your life. Your decision is definitive.

‘In a final surge you decide to put in words the reason behind your decision. In the style of a self-portrait, you describe the disgust you have for yourself. Your text will retrace certain events in your life at the origin of these feelings.’

Teen suicides are becoming a growing problem, made worse by the proliferation of social media and mobile technology, experts say.

A recent study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, found that one in 12 US teens have tried to kill themselves at least once.

On a larger scale, suicides made up 13 per cent of all deaths among US youths ages 10 to 24 last year, according to the study.

Neuropsychologist Hector Adames said the rise of communication through technology is a major reason why suicide rates are on the rise.

‘What happens with an increase in communication among students is that there’s more pressure. There’s more bullying.’

‘When adolescents and children feel embarrassed, it’s kind of like the end of the world for them.’

Jean-Marie Renault, the school head, confirmed that the teacher had now been ‘officially notified’ of his suspension, following complaints from parents.

‘It was suggested that a student was on the point of putting an end to his life and describing it,’ said Mr Renault. ‘This appears quite disturbing’.

He said the teacher had confessed to feeling ‘confused’ when he set the writing exercise, and later regretted it.

As bad as this story can be made out to sound, let’s not overreact!
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