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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Girls' suicide pact shocks France
By Hugh Schofield
Paris

Mourners gather outside the tower block from which the girls jumped
One of the girls had previously said she wanted to kill herself
France has reacted with horror as details emerged this week of the twin suicide of two teenage girls who bound their hands together and jumped from the 17th-storey window of a block of flats in Paris.

The 14-year old girls, who have been named only as Marion and Virginie, were both heavily influenced by the gothic fashion in music and clothes.

Friends said they were obsessed by talk of death, and the weblog kept by one of the girls contained long and morbid extracts from the lyrics of a leading French black metal band.

On Sunday, the pair's school friends gathered for a brief memorial service at the foot of the tower block in Ivry-sur-Seine, a southern suburb of the capital.

One of them - named in French newspapers as Benjamin - described how Marion and Virginie joined him and a friend in his top-floor apartment on Friday afternoon.

"They said to us: 'Wait there, we are going into the bedroom. We are going to give you a surprise.'

"Then they said: 'Come in!' And then we saw them on the window ledge. We couldn't do anything. They just jumped," he said.

A suicide note was found in one of their pockets. It read: "Life isn't worth it."

'Not happy'

The story has provoked widespread shock because the girls were from very average middle-class homes, in a very average suburban neighbourhood.

Though they had attracted attention for their black clothes and brooding personalities, no-one imagined for a minute that their alienation from the world was so extreme.

According to newspaper reports, the two girls ran away from home early last week.

She was permanently humiliated. Everyone made fun of her clothes
Melisa

They were found by local police who questioned them and found nothing unusual about their manner.

Friends said Marion had often pronounced an intention to kill herself, but no-one had taken her seriously.

"It was clear she wasn't happy," a girl called Melisa told France Soir newspaper.

"Like me she dressed in gothic outfits. But she got teased mercilessly for it. She was permanently humiliated. Everyone made fun of her clothes."

Perhaps the biggest clue to Marion's confusion can be found on her weblog, part of which has been transferred to a tribute website set up by her friends.

In it, she delivers an angry and self-hating stream of consciousness based around sex, beauty and death, interspersed with lyrics from the French black metal group, Anorexia Nervosa.

Violent lyrics

The group from the central town of Limoges - one of whose albums is called Suicide is Sexy - has a loyal following among a section of French youth. Its lyrics are hard-hitting.

"I hate you. I vomit on your soul and your family. Death to your parents. Torture and rape to your children. I hate you to death," are the words of one song on Marion's weblog.

"You are the whore of human weakness. Tepid and obscene. Blinded by the sweaty desire of vanity. Worthless."

All sorts of music have driven people to extremes of behaviour. Not just black metal
Jeff Veillet
Rock One magazine

Another reads: "I can't take any more. I have had enough. I have burned my eyes and I am afraid."

In Britain and the US, campaigners for family values have long complained about the content of black metal and death metal songs, alleging that their violent and death-obsessed lyrics can tip the sensitive into self-destruction.

Jeff Veillet, of leading French rock magazine Rock One, defended Anorexia Nervosa from charges that it is playing a dangerous game with the insecurities of teenage girls.

"Yes, there is a provocative side to groups like Anorexia. But just because they talk about death in their songs, it doesn't mean they want people to commit suicide. It is an act - a way of getting through to adolescents," he said.

"All sorts of music have driven people to extremes of behaviour. Not just black metal."


SEE ALSO
Country profile: France
06 Sep 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: France
06 Sep 05 |  Country profiles

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