French Teacher Sets Herself on Fire in Middle of Playground

In a flamboyant suicide attempt, a math teacher set herself on fire in the middle of a school playground in southern France. The 44-year-old woman is expected to survive thanks to the help of her fellow teachers and students her rushed to her aide.

The National Post reports that the depressed woman taught her morning math class as usual. Then she strolled to the middle of the school yard, doused herself with petrol fuel, and set herself ablaze.

The unidentified woman was taken from the schoolyard at Jean Moulin secondary school in Beziers, southern France, by helicopter to Montpellier’s university teaching hospital.

State prosecutor Patrick Mathe said:

“She should pull through… It was a desperate act… there was no crime.”

The New York Daily News reports that the suicide attempt came a day after the teacher had an altercation with her students. The students had been complaining about her strict teaching methods. At a parent teacher conference a week earlier, parents also complained about her strict methods.

One student who witnessed the suicide attempt, told the AFP:

“I saw her body on fire, walking forward with her hands on her head. Several people tried to put her out. She said, ’No, leave me alone. I don’t need help. God told me to do this.’ The teachers put a blanket over her, her clothes had melted.”

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Education Minister Luc Chatel issued a statement saying:

“The minister shares the shock and sadness of the staff and students of the school. He asked for all information to try to understand what could have driven this teacher to carry out this act.”

The school is setting up a support system to offer students psychiatric help.

Should the woman get her job back after she recovers in the hospital?