French teacher suspended over 'suicide note assignment'

A teacher in France has been suspended after allegedly asking pupils to write an essay from the viewpoint of a suicidal teenager. The pupils, aged between 13 and 14, were told to imagine reasons for wanting to end their lives and describe their self-disgust. Angry parents contacted the national education department.

"The wording is beyond shocking," an investigating government official said. The incident took place at the Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard secondary school in the Charente region of western France. The teacher could face disciplinary actions for the essay question, said Jean-Marie Renault, a regional director for the education ministry.

"If the facts are proven to be accurate, I cannot let this pass. Yes, there could sanctions. The teacher will have to explain herself." Shocked parents expressed their outrage over the assignment. "We are disgusted that someone would give this type of topic to children who are between 13 and 14 years of age," they said.

"We are not in the habit of questioning what happens at school, but there are limits. What will be the next topic? 'How do you feel when you shoot up drugs?'" The president of the local parents' association said the essay "almost encourages" children to take their own lives.