A school in Staffordshire UK, has apologized to the parents of Wesley Walker,14, of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, who wrote a creative writing essay for his school project that his mother mistook for a suicide note.
According to Wesley's mother Vicki, "I felt I was going to find him hanging from his bed, I found it sick."
BBC reports that the Discovery Academy has apologized for causing the parent "distress."
Head teacher Rob Ridout, said: "It was never the intention of the exercise to cause distress, in fact it was the total opposite of that. We apologize for what happened." Ridout said: "It's unfortunate that the context of this exercise wasn't explained to Wesley's parents."
BBC reports that Wesley said pupils were told to imagine they were terminally ill and had only a few hours to live, and write to their loved ones. Wesley wrote in his essay: "I want you to remember the fun times and the happy times, at my funeral make everyone were [sic] bright colors to remember my personality. I know I have been a pain at the best of times but I'm with Nan and Grandad now so I love you and goodbye." The make-believe letter ended: "Please be strong for me." The writer then signs off "with six kisses and a heart."
The Edmonton Sun reports that when Wesley handed the note to his mother and went up to bed, she got into a panic. BBC reports Wesley's mother said: "He handed it to me one evening and then just went upstairs to bed. I really felt like I was going to find him hanging from his bed and maybe he felt he couldn't take any more. I spoke to him and he said it was something they were asked to do at school, I felt it to be really sick. I just don't think schools should be asking children to write things like this especially when it can be seen as a suicide note, I don't agree with it."
Today Online reports that Ridout explained that the exercise was part of an "expressive art" lesson. He said: "The exercise was to enable young people to express emotions and share things with loved ones that they never normally say. They were asked to imagine what they would say if they had a short time left and many pupils and their families found it an encouraging and positive experience. It's unfortunate that the context of this exercise wasn't explained to Wesley's parents, and we'll look at the way exercises like this are communicated to our students in the future."
According to Mike Hymans, from the Division of Educational Child Psychologists, Wesley's letter was part of the social and emotional literacy curriculum. Hymans said: "It's important that children and young people have an opportunity to share and express their feelings. The issue here is perhaps that the parents were unaware of the activity so perhaps it's about direct communication and making sure that emotional literacy is discussed with parents."