School suspensions after 62 students launch suicide pact
Published Thursday, November 30, 2017 5:35PM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 1, 2017 7:25AM EST
A Montreal school rushed into action this week after a staff member discovered students were signing a suicide pact.
The chilling plot involved as many as 62 students in grades 9 and 10 at College Anjou.
An employee at the private school discovered a letter in the yard earlier this week, with the signatories all agreeing to take their own lives on Jan. 30, 2018.
"It was a three-page document and the first page dealt with the suicide pact," said Principal Luc Plante.
The school notified police immediately, and told parents of the letter that day, emailing them a message.
"We're taking this situation very seriously," said the note.
"Your child may have signed that letter, so we're encouraging you to have a discussion with him or her."
The school also provided students and parents with the number for a suicide help hotline.
"Encouraging someone to take their own life is a criminal act so police deployed a crisis management team," said Plante.
The three students who circulated the letter claimed it was supposed to be a joke.
"Serious or not, we talked to every student who signed that letter," said Plante.
While none of the students said they were planning to kill themselves, experts say it is likely that some were in distress -- or will be.
Jerome Goudreault of the Quebec Assn. of suicide prevention said the rate of teenaged suicide has dropped in Quebec.
"It's probable that a few of the teenagers that signed that letter may have suicidal thoughts, may express distress," said Goudreault.
"The situation is better than it was a few years ago."
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers in Quebec, with the leading cause being car crashes.
Meanwhile College Anjou has suspended the three students who launched the suicide pact.
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that approximately 10 people die of suicide each day in Canada. It is the second leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 19 years. While females account for 59 per cent of suicides by those between the ages of 10 and 14, males account for 70 per cent of suicides among those ages 15 to 19, according to PHAC.
It is illegal under the Criminal Code to counsel a person to die by suicide or abet a person in dying by suicide.