The joint suicide of two teenage girls, who hurled themselves from a 17th-floor window in a Paris suburb, has raised troubling questions in France about the influence of Black Metal – a form of modern rock music that openly glorifies violence and death.
Marion and Virginie, both aged 14, visited a friend’s apartment at the top of a tower block in the middle-class neighbourhood of Ivry-sur-Seine last Friday. After telling him to wait in an adjoining room and expect a “surprise”, they bound their hands together and leapt from a window. Police later found a note in one of their pockets reading: “Life isn’t worth it.”
Both girls were heavily influenced by the goth movement, wore black clothes and had body piercings. Friends said they were obsessed by suicide, and a weblog kept by Marion reveals an angry, self-hating stream of consciousness centring on ugliness and death.
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The blog also contains long extracts of lyrics from French Black Metal group Anorexia Nervosa, creators of a recent album called Suicide Is Sexy .
“I hate you. I vomit on your soul and family. Death to your parents. Torture and rape to your children. I hate you to death,” go the words. “You are the whore of human weakness … worthless.”
The Limoges-based group delivers a rant backed by thrashing guitars and wear white make-up with blackened eyes on stage.
“Sadly the suicides don’t surprise me,” said Jacky Cordonnier, a French expert who advises the government on cults.
“There is a drift into Satanism. A structured movement with no scruples is trying to take over and manipulate the young, and it can lead them into this kind of extreme behaviour,” he said.
When the goth movement began in Britain in the 1980s, it expressed a more passive melancholy, said Cordonnier. But in recent years it has been transformed, and its extreme exponents in Death and Black Metal music flirt with a kind of neo-Nazi paganism.
Paul Aries, author of a book on the goth movement, said: “There is no question that fantasising over extremely morbid images to a very violent form of music can undermine young adolescents.
“What is more worrying is why so many young people choose to live out their normal teenage rebellion on this type of nihilistic and death-obsessed terrain. It is a symptom of something very sick in our civilisation.”
A spokesman for Anorexia Nervosa’s record label, Listenable, expressed distress at news of the suicides, but denied the band prey on teenage insecurities. “If you want someone to blame, blame society. Just turn on the TV. Look at the violence children are faced with from the day they are born. Society is the problem,” he said.
Jeff Veillet, of French rock magazine Rock One, agreed: “There is a provocative side to groups like Anorexia. But just because they talk about death in their songs, does not mean they want people to commit suicides. ”
François Poublan, a Catholic deacon who works with goths, said: “If anything, being part of a goth group decreases the likelihood of suicide, because, in my experience, they are mutually very supportive.”