This School Asked Students To Write Suicide Notes & People Are Pissed

26 June 2017, 11:12 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 16:14

School Apologises For Telling Pupils To Write Suic
James Wilson-Taylor

By James Wilson-Taylor

A London college set the English class assignment, immediately prompting complaints from angry parents and pupils alike.

A school in London has issued an apology after telling 60 teenage pupils to write suicide notes as part of an English class assignment.

Pupils at Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke were studying Shakespeare's classic Macbeth in which Lady Macbeth famously dies "by self and violent hands". Students were asked to write the note from the perspective of Lady Macbeth to help them better understand the twist in the story.

However, some parents and students were horrified by the project with many complaining to the school. One mother spoke with a local newspaper News Shopper, said three of her daughter’s friends had killed themselves in the past, and that she was "very distressed" after the assignment was set:

"On what universe was it ever a good idea to ask a group of teenagers to write suicide notes? At least two classes have done this assignment. My daughter is very outspoken but there are other kids not as vocal who might be suffering from depression."

Mental healthcare and suicide prevention within schools have come under greater focus in recent months following the success of Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, with many charities calling for improved standards in the education sector and for open conversations with professionals about the best methods of preventing self-harming among young teens.

UPDATE 26/06/17: A representative from the Royal Borough of Greenwich has provided this statement from Carolyn Roberts, Headteacher at Thomas Tallis School.

“A parent contacted us with concerns about a written exercise given to a class during studies of a play by Shakespeare. The exercise was given to a class who had been studying Macbeth as part of a year 8 English lesson.

We care deeply about the emotional wellbeing of our students and of course wish no distress to be caused to any of our students - all we can do is hold discussions and debates on topics such as these in a supportive and sensitive way. Had we been aware of any students who would have found the exercise upsetting then we would of course have taken a different approach. We have listened to the concerns raised by this debate and will not run the exercise again."

This article has updated to better reflect that students were asked to write from the perspective of Lady Macbeth and that they were not writing their own suicide notes. 

For more help and advice regarding self harm and suicide prevention, contact one of the organisations listed here.