As part of homework, an English teacher in the United Kingdom asked over 60 students to write a suicide note as part of a module on Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. Students at the Thomas Tallis school, Kidbrooke, London, had been asked by their teacher to write a final note to their loved ones after reading the scene in that scene in Shakespeare’s classic when Lady Macbeth takes her own life.

The homework sparked outrage after parents claimed that their children had been personally affected by the issue. One mother said her daughter was told to write the note after she had lost three friends to suicide. Criticising Thomas Tallis for its lack of sensitivity, the mother said her daughter had become “very distressed” and had even told her teacher that such questions made her feel uncomfortable. “My daughter had had personal experience with people her age committing suicide,” the mother said.

Lashing out at the teacher, she said: “On what universe was it ever, under any situation, a good idea to ask a group of teenagers to write suicide notes?”

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Not just one mother but other parents too branded the decision “absolutely disgusting” and “insensitive”. One of them asserted, “I can’t imagine why a place of education would do something so insensitive, especially as childhood and teenage depression and anxiety is at an all time high at the moment.”

Following the uproar, the school was forced to apologise for the incident. Reacting to the controversy, Headmistress Caroyln Roberts said: “A parent contacted us with concerns about a written exercise given to a class during studies of a play by Shakespeare. We appreciate that the exercise was upsetting to the family and have discussed the subject matter and approach with teaching staff,” Roberts said.

Roberts added that the school has reassured the parents about the actions that have been taken. The parent who had complained has accepted the school’s apology.

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