British School Apologizes for Instructing Student to Write Own ‘Suicide Note’
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Wesley said the pupils were asked to imagine they had a terminal illness and only a few hours to live
A Staffordshire school has apologised after a 14-year-old boy was asked to write a letter that his mother thought was a suicide note.
Wesley Walker, 14, of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, wrote the letter, which makes reference to his funeral, as part of a creative writing exercise.
His mother Vicki said: "I felt I was going to find him hanging from his bed, I found it sick."
The Discovery Academy has apologised for causing any "distress".
Headteacher Rob Ridout said: "It was never the intention of the exercise to cause distress, in fact it was the total opposite of that. We apologise for what happened."
'Please be strong'
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It's unfortunate that the context of this exercise wasn't explained to Wesley's parents”
Wesley said pupils were told to write a letter as if they had a terminal illness and only had a few hours to live.
In it, he wrote: "I want you to remember the fun times and the happy times, at my funeral make everyone were [sic] bright colours to remember my personality.
"I know I have been a pain at the best of times but I'm with Nan and Grandad now so I love you and goodbye."
He ends the letter by saying "please be strong for me" and signs off with six kisses and a heart.
Wesley said: "It felt normal because it was a lesson where we do creative writing."
Mrs Walker said: "He handed it to me one evening and then just went upstairs to bed.
"I really felt like I was going to find him hanging from his bed and maybe he felt he couldn't take any more.
Wesley (right) and the rest of his family at Christmas last year
"I spoke to him and he said it was something they were asked to do at school, I felt it to be really sick.
"I just don't think schools should be asking children to write things like this especially when it can be seen as a suicide note, I don't agree with it."
'Express their feelings'
Mr Ridout said the exercise was part of an "expressive art" lesson.
He confirmed Wesley showed the letter to a teacher and that pupils were told to take them home.
He said: "The exercise was to enable young people to express emotions and share things with loved ones that they never normally say.
"They were asked to imagine what they would say if they had a short time left and many pupils and their families found it an encouraging and positive experience.
"It's unfortunate that the context of this exercise wasn't explained to Wesley's parents, and we'll look at the way exercises like this are communicated to our students in the future."
Mike Hymans, from the Division of Educational Child Psychologists, said the social and emotional literacy curriculum included a range of activities similar to the letter-writing exercise.
He said: "It's important that children and young people have an opportunity to share and express their feelings.
"The issue here is perhaps that the parents were unaware of the activity so perhaps it's about direct communication and making sure that emotional literacy is discussed with parents."[/quote]
That's just wrong.
To be honest I'm not sure what to think of the school here.
I mean this kid's mom's got a point but I'm not sure what I think of the school for this.
He was told to write a note as if he was on his final stretch, and he decided that a suicide note would be appropriate. The kid seems to be responsible for this mistake, not the school.
Wait, they made the kids do a letter that was from the perspective of a terminally ill patient?
Man what the fuck ever happened to reading The Great Gatsby and shit?
[QUOTE=DireAvenger;36452051]He was told to write a note as if he was on his final stretch, and he decided that a suicide note would be appropriate. The kid seems to be responsible for this mistake, not the school.[/QUOTE]
It's not even a suicide note, just him saying goodbye.
Of course the context makes or breaks that point; if you found it on the table you would definitely think the kid was going to kill himself.
How is this even relevant to the curriculum?
I'm getting the vibe that not a lot of thought was put into the ramifications of an assignment like this.
I agree with this:
[QUOTE]The issue here is perhaps that the parents were unaware of the activity so perhaps it's about direct communication and making sure that emotional literacy is discussed with parents.[/QUOTE]
I feel the school should be involved one way or another in that 'direct communication'. And I think the 'social and emotional literacy curriculum' and this assignment are quite good. I / we never had this in school.
[quote]Mrs Walker said: "He handed it to me one evening and then just went upstairs to bed."[/quote]
Ha ha ha, oh wow.
I know this is mostly the school's fault, but this line is making me think that he should have at least [I]explained[/I] what it was.
He just casually handed his mom this note, then went upstairs, probably thinking "oh man, I did such a good job on that assignment, I hope mum'll stick that up on the fridge". Did he not realize what that must have seemed like to her?
It's still mostly the school's fault, though.
His spelling and grammar is atrocious.
I actually think it's kinda sweet, it shows the kid what really matters in life. He cam across as really caring which should make the parents proud.
It's still the school's fault, they should have attached a little note to each letter explaining what it is and why they've done it.
I don't think anybody is really wrong here, I can totally understand the mother freaking out over finding that and I also know that in creative writing classes you have to write all kinds of different things.
Maybe they should have had the kids write a title for it like "Creative Writing assignment:If I had four hours left to live" and their name and date at the top, that way it'd look a lot more like classwork than a suicide note (plus it'd be easier for the teachers to keep track of when they're handed in).
I think it's just a mistake, though the school should of collected them in or something. Sounds like quite a fun creative writing exercise actually.
Miscommunication between the school/student/parents.
I don't think that the exercise itself was bad, but parents should have probably been informed what it was about. I mean, they could have at least asked them to write it on a worksheet which clearly explained the task.
[QUOTE=xXDictatorXx;36453518]I don't think anybody is really wrong here, I can totally understand the mother freaking out over finding that and I also know that in creative writing classes you have to write all kinds of different things.
Maybe they should have had the kids write a title for it like "Creative Writing assignment:If I had four hours left to live" and their name and date at the top, that way it'd look a lot more like classwork than a suicide note (plus it'd be easier for the teachers to keep track of when they're handed in).[/QUOTE]
There are a lot of useful things they could have gotten them to write, a suicide note isn't really a good idea.
I'd hang my kid myself if I found his writing to be such a poor standard.
I'm not sure, but at least in my school/class this wouldn't have been taken seriously in any way. Most of my classmates (including me) would have written "Still Alive".
While the school mishandled this, I do think the exercise it useful. Most people, especially children, can't envision their lives being different, not to mention envision being dead. This shows them a new perspective and I think it'll open their minds towards different experiences.
[QUOTE=Noss;36454027]Miscommunication between the school/student/parents.[/QUOTE]
Hahaha I decided to check out the school's website and I think you may be right
The school was planning to kill him and plant the note. It's the only logical explanation.
I don't really blame the school for this, it sounds like an interesting exercise in creative writing and empathy.
That whole death note was just his will.
What kind of exercise is this.
why do all suicide notes have horifically poor handwriting?
[QUOTE=AK'z;36461636]why do all suicide notes have horifically poor handwriting?[/QUOTE]
not this guy
[editline]23rd June 2012[/editline]
also as it stands this was a poorly thought out assignment but if they made good and sure to send out like 50 emails and phone calls months in advance of this assignment telling parents exactly what it is then it would be a great way to help develop empathy in tweens, I don't see what's bad about that
How is this even relevant to the curriculum?[/QUOTE]
Whereas, i agree, it's not relevant to any curriculum, i legitimately think its a good learning experience, not in the "hurr study for this test" but in progressing a childs thinking, its forcing them to think in situations, that one might not otherwise think otherwise, it's pretty good foundation for realising sometimes, life will throw a curve ball at you.
I see nothing wrong with this, I had to do something similar in my creative writing class (although mine was an Epitaph).
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