Thursday, 23 May 2013

France - suicide as a means of ideological and political terrorism

Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
It was with horror that I read the news of the suicide of Dominique Venner, 78, an extreme right-wing historian, former OAS nationalist terrorist and virulent opponent of France's new law giving homosexuals the right to marry. He walked into Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the middle of the afternoon, placed himself before the altar, and blew his brains out with a handgun. Vanner had sent an open letter to the website of extreme right party Nouvelles de France just before killing himself.

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".

I wrote above that I was horrified by this news, but perhaps I should explain why. That a right-wing bigot, homophobe and racist should commit suicide doesn't bother me in the slightest. But what does horrify me is that his death is part of a wider and deeply worrying phenomenon in France - that of using suicide as a form of terrorism to promote ideological and political views and opinions.

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.


  1. un con de moins.Il faudra expliquer a madame Christine Boutin que le suicide est péché chez les catholiques et a l,entendre elle va finir par en faire un martyr. Cela me fait rire ,un ancien de l,OAS sympathisant FN ,parti politique qui par un miracle de l,histoire ne jure plus que par le général DE GAULLE.

    1. "Un con de moins".

      Bien dit. Et quant à l'affreuse Boutin, merci pour le rappel, j’ai voulu parler de l’aspect ‘récuperation politique’ dans ce blog mais j’avais oublié. Chose faite maintenant, paragraphe 8.

  2. I have very little patience with these kind of individuals but at 78, he might have had the beginning of dementia or alzheimer disease. He is now out of his misery, thank Gawd!
    I am not an expert and don't read french newspapers like you do, but just reading your blog, I can tell that there are a lot of problems in France and french people are finally realizing that France is a mediocre country, ran by political truants who couldn't careless about the population. It is happening in the US too, except that here, there are family suicides, or mass killing like we've seen in the past few years.

    Here are the world statistics, they unfortunately don't have too recent ones but apparently, suicide rates are going up all over the world.

    The only good thing about those french suicidal people, is that they are not taking any other lives but their own. I wish, like you, that they would do it in the privacy of their own home, far away from children or people but I understand that they want to make a point too. When you are in this mental state, you really couldn't careless about hurting other people's feelings. They just want out; they just cannot take it anymore.

    1. Yes Nadege, but committing suicide in public to "make a point"? That's terrorism, blackmail, nasty and dangerous. The press should stop reporting these stories other than with a short news item down the page. All this just whips up violent sentiment and hate. I hope those who kill themselves for this reason rot in hell to be honest...

  3. Beaucoup de gens ont été confronté au suicide d,un proche ou d,un ami.C,est violent, souvent on ne comprend pas.Mais ses personnes qui le font devant des enfants, des touristes ou des fonctionnaires ,sont des gens qui ont un égo surdimensionné .Regardez ,j,ai une vie de merde ,je suis un incompris,mais je vais vous pourrir la vie et traumatiser vos enfants .Ma compassion a des limites .

    1. Oui, et moi aussi j'ai été confronté au suicide, et des tentatives aussi. Ce n'ai pas beau à voir. Mais ces imbeciles-là n'ont que des raisons idéoligiques pour se flinguer. Et bien qu'ils le fassent, mais que la presse et le public s'en foutent aussi. C'est des manipulateurs malades, ni plus ni moins...

  4. Je suis complètement d'accord avec Anonymous!