|Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral|
In the letter he explained the reasons for his action. "I killed myself in order to awaken sleeping consciences" he said, and in a clear reference to immigrants he said he was protesting against "the replacement of our population". He also left a post on his blog in which he denounced the gay marriage law and predicted that "a France which falls under the power of Islamism is a probability".
That this should occur in France is not exactly a surprise, given the country's obsession with suicide and abnormally high suicide rates. There have been several particularly gruesome suicides by teachers over the last couple of years, including several instances in which the victims poured petrol over themselves in front of children, set themselves alight and burned to death. Needless to say they often leave notes which protest against their working conditions, and trades unions man the barricades to loudly denounce government policies they say lead to these events.
There has also been a long string of suicides at France Telecom over the last few years, and each one is exploited by the unions to denounce what they call inhuman management practices and punishing work schedules.
Then there are those who set themselves alight inside or outside unemployment offices or other government agency premises to protest against everything from their social security payments to housing problems to perceived unfair treatment by staff.
And how do I know all this? I know it because I read the press, which splashes front-page headlines to accompany each one, and every time they do those who comment them and various organisations denounce such-and-such a government policy or such-and-such an injustice.
Political parties also jump on the bandwagon to score cheap political points. The UMP, the Front National and the homophobic Catholique extremist agitator Christine Boutin have all blamed the government for Vanner's suicide.
This is grotesque manipulation, both physical and intellectual terrorism and it must be resisted. Two things need to happen here.
The first is to say that 'enough is enough' and insist that the press, which whips up virulence and conflict (and much-needed advertising revenue) each time someone kills themselves in a spectacular manner for ideological and other reasons, stops publishing high-profile and sensationalist gutter-press articles on this phenomenon. After all, if these suicides were given less prominence some of those who may be tempted to kill themselves may be dissuaded from doing so in the knowledge that their act would be largely ignored.
And the second thing to do is for French society to make it very clear that suicide is not an acceptable manner of expression in a civilised and democratic country. Killing oneself to advance a cause is terrorism, it's as simple as that, and it's high time this was made clear by senior French personalities, journalists, bloggers and the public at large.