School Horrors: Teacher in France Lights Herself On Fire on Playground While A Teacher in Illinois Hangs Herself in Her Classroom

This week proved rather gruesome for teachers and students alike. In Illinois, Linda Walker (shown here) decided not only to hang herself but to do it in her kindergarten class. In France, a high school math teacher set herself on fire in the playground during the recreation period full of children.

The 44-year-old teacher in France is expected to survive after pupils and fellow teachers put out the flames. She is described as depressed and only the day before had had an argument with children in her class over what they viewed as her too strict manner at the Jean Moulin secondary school in Beziers in southern France.

For her part, Linda Elaine Walker, 45, succeeded in killing herself. She was hanging inside her classroom at Tri-C Elementary School in Carterville, Illinois. The students were already coping with the loss of one of their most popular teachers to cancer in that same week.

Walker had been a teacher for 17 years, and hanged herself the same day as funeral services for Lynn Byrnes.

The decision of these two teachers to kill themselves at school is horrific for any educator. Our classrooms are viewed as special, if not sacred places, where students are protected from threats and violence. As discussed in this column, teachers have died protecting this special place. For that reason, there is a collective shudder from educators to read about not one but two such stories in the same week. Of course, these teachers were obviously coping with severe depression and such values and perspective can be lost in the fog of such mental illness.

In both schools, children are being given counseling by officials.

Source: Daily Mail

15 thoughts on “School Horrors: Teacher in France Lights Herself On Fire on Playground While A Teacher in Illinois Hangs Herself in Her Classroom”

  1. Carterville Mom:

    Thanks for the clarification. It’s horrible enough that this woman committed suicide at all, but to misrepresent the facts and say that she did it in front of her students is an awful slander of Ms. Walker, who I have great pity for.

    RIP Ms. Walker.

    I am glad you did not hang yourself in front of your children. Suicide is never the answer. Sorry you couldn’t somehow get help and see another way out of your pain. I don’t know you, but wish I had been there to help you.

    “Forgive us our unkindness
    Our desertion,
    And our blindness….. ”
    Joan Baez

  2. OS.
    thanks for the information!
    Carterville Mom,
    I went to college in Carbondale and I know Carterville very well. I hope for nothing but the best for your town and the kids and the teacher’s family. Such a sad situation.

  3. These are certainly tragic events, and I don’t intend to belittle the human loss by bringing up statistics. Teachers are human beings, and between the US and Europe, there are probably a few million. Any population group that large is going to have a fair number of suicides, murders, sexual assaults, etc. Unfortunately, I’m sure that such suicides happen periodically. I wonder if we’re only aware of these two because they improbably occurred in the same week?

    Also, Carterville Mom mentioned that Ms. Walker was believed to have changed her medication recently. Someone like OS could probably do a better job than I could in explaining why the period coming out of deep depression actually increases the probability that someone will act on their suicidal ideation.

  4. @OS – Hostility/anger: The suicidal person is typically angry at someone or something. Depression often has an anger component. Show me a depressed person and I will show you an irritable person.

    Thanks for your input, especially that – have been diagnosed as depressed, aggravated by the loss of three parents in 7 years (2002-2009), the last two w/in 8 months of each other. It’s through reaching out to friends that I’ve maintained my sanity, but my issues go way back – have always wondered if my “class clown” rep/hyper self-criticism had something to do with that.

    Anyway, thanks again,

    Bob

  5. Carterville Mom,

    Thank you. I wish you, your son and community peace and healing. May something good come of her death…

  6. I live in Carterville where this happened. While this is tragic and horrible and we have all been questioning her reasoning behind doing this in her classroom, I would like to take the opportunity to point out that she did not do this “in front of her students” as I have seen reported in multiple places. Walker did this after the school day had finished, she was alone in her classroom, locked her classroom door, and proceeded to commit this act in her supply closet. It has been said that she had been very depressed for some time and had recently had her antidepressant medication changed. Very sad. My 9 year old son had her for kindergarten and we loved her as a teacher. He has always said she was still his favorite teacher to date. He still saw her and talked to her at school, saw her on the day that she did this. I also have a daughter that is now in kindergarten at Tri-C, in the classroom beside Walker’s. Our little community has been going through a lot recently.

  7. Depression knows you by name….but names no names…until it may be too late…

  8. Posted to the Mail Online article:

    On Facebook, mother Gypsy Obermiller, wrote: ‘Linda was my son’s favourite teacher. He even went back to visit her for his 13th birthday and read to her class. He’s now 19 and is devastated by the news. I pray for Linda’s family, friends and students.’

    Very sad…

  9. Having fought depression my entire adult life I second OS. The only seed of reality that has kept me on this planet is that I do not want to punish those I love.

    I think we have to also admit that teaching can be a high stress position & teachers need help. Both in how to teach in a classroom setting but in how to deal with the pressures that teaching entails. I know I couldn’t teach kids. I thought an adult class evenings at a tech school and the desire to get everyone the knowledge they need to obtain combined with various skill and learning methods are competing variables.

  10. There are several core elements present in any suicide. Research shows these core elements are hostility/anger; depression; hopelessness; and of course, suicidal ideation.

    Hopelessness: There is no way out. Tunnel vision prevails and because of the depression problem solving ability and the energy to solve problems is diminished or absent.

    Hostility/anger: The suicidal person is typically angry at someone or something. Depression often has an anger component. Show me a depressed person and I will show you an irritable person. Having read a lot of suicide notes over the years, it is interesting to see one phrase over and over, “See what you made me do.” They WANT someone to feel guilty.

  11. If you are already in such deep despair as to want to kill yourself, the mind is not operating logically and any action might be possible. OS might be able to shed more light on this type of sad behavior.

  12. Absolutely chilling and nauseating. Why did these 2 women want to punish the kids? Surely they knew committing suicide in front of the kids would traumatize them.

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