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Outrage as teacher uses suicide case in physics lesson

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Outrage as teacher uses suicide case in physics lesson
Pont Bessières bridge in Lausanne. Photo: Grez Wikimedia Commons.
11:24 CET+01:00
Parents and students have reacted with shock and anger after a teacher decided to use suicide as an example in a physics lesson.

A teacher in Lausanne has sparked outrage among his 14-year-old students and their parents after he presented the class with a physics exercise the involved suicide, Swiss news site 20 Minuten reported online on Sunday.

"Mr. Durant decided to end his life, specifically by jumping off of the Pont Bessières bridge," begins the exercise. "He reaches the bottom with a speed of 77 kilometres per hour. How high must the bridge be?"

Pont Bessières bridge is known for being a place where people choose to commit suicide. The example was also made perhaps too soon after the suicide earlier this year of top Swiss chef Benoît Violier in his home outside Lausanne.

The director of the Schoolhouse Béthusy, Jean-François Borgeaud, said that after reviewing the physics question, he believed that a "tactless act had been committed".

"We will ensure that something like this does not happen again in the future," Borgeaud added. "And we will meet with the students from his class to make sure that no one felt traumatized."

A spokeswoman from the group Stop Suicide stressed that schools should teach sensitivity towards suicide. 

"Imagine the pain felt by a student who perhaps lost a parent or another person close to them due to suicide," said Irina Inostroza from Stop Suicide to 20 Minuten. 

"We encourage all schools to approach the topic of suicide with good judgement and care. One should neither trivialize it, nor speak about it in brutal language. The subject of death is always a shock for all concerned."

To learn more about Stop Suicide and resources for those contemplating suicide, visit StopSuicide.ch or Suicide.org.

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