Emilie, a young vegetarian, harassed and pushed to suicide

Emilie was a vegetarian and a passionate anti-bullfighting and anti-fur activist. She loved meditating and reading. The fact that she was different provoked mockery, humiliation and harassment at school. She committed suicide when she was only 17 years old.

Emilie Monk’s diary reveals a heart-breaking testimony about the harassment that the 17 year-old resident of Lille (a town in north France) faced by her “classmates”.

Shortly after her death, Emilie’s parents found out about her ordeal from the notes on her computer. There the young lady asks those who experienced the same ordeal to “stay strong.”

A precocious, talented and different teenager

Emilie was different. As a vegetarian, she militated against bullfighting and fur industry. She practiced meditation and looked for an answer to her problems in Buddhism. Emilie loved literature, Balzac and Zola were among her favorite authors. She called her books “my babies”. They were her only friends, her only refuge.

A particularly gifted student, the young lady wanted to be a vegetarian and help the animals she loved so much. As an example of her activism, Emilie gave her money to associations like L214. The rest she saved and gave away as gifts to her relatives.

Emilie was very mature for her age and that created a gap between her and her “classmates”. “Young people, at this age, often resemble a flock of starlings that shred an exotic bird escaped from the cage in which they bump into. Emilie was first in her class even though she never strived to be. This led to jealousy from the others” insists her father, Ian.

“In her school, all the girls had smooth hair, brand name clothes and make-up. Emilie was quite the opposite. She was interested in reading her favorite books and helping the animals, she was a vegetarian while around her, young people wore fur clothes” states her mother Virginia in the Metro newspaper.

The teenager studied at the Notre-Dame de la Paix school in Lille. An institution whose motto proudly states: “Learn, live and grow together.”

Meat in her dishes

At school, Emilie particularly hated lunch breaks. She had to find a place in the canteen, rather   next to people who ignored her at most. Then she had to eat without enjoying her food, and preferably, slowly, in order not to stay longer outside. They knew she was a vegetarian, so they teased her by putting meat in her plate.

After her meal, the teenager went to the fourth floor of an abandoned building to finish her break by reading. “You endured the first half of the day. Only the second half is left. But tomorrow, I will need to start again” she thought.

“Holding back her tears, again and again.”

During her suffering, Emilie had found a quiet place, the toilet. She spent her breaks there. A short-lived escape, 15 minutes before the brutal comeback to reality.

This is what she reports in her diary:

“This moment of peace lasted only a short time. I walked into the courtyard in the direction of the 5°2 row. I saw their smiles while they were looking at me, I felt they laid eyes on my old sneakers, my frayed jeans, my Turtleneck Sweater and my backpack. I heard a few “Hobo!” But  I ignored them.”

This experience was like an obstacle course for me. Dodging the blows, the tripping and the spitting. Trying not to pay attention to the insults and the mockery. Protecting my bag and my hair. Holding my tears back over and over again during those endless minutes.

-Hey you know what? It seems there is going to be an award for the ugliest nerds in each country.

-Really? Replied her neighbor. I bet we’ve got the winner in our class!

– Yeah, you know it would have been the case! Unfortunately, only girls can participate! Not the ‘thing’ that we got here…

The class exploded with laughter. Seeing my reaction, he threw his ruler at my head.

– Emilie, you don’t look alright. Do you want to go to the bathroom? asked the teacher.

Yeah right, that’s what’s missing.

– Do you need to relieve yourself a little? Shouted one of the students.

A new wave of laughter.

– Quiet please. Let’s continue with the lecture.”

No problem for the school

Emilie had decided to hide her ordeal from her parents. She wanted to protect them and didn’t want to make the situation worse.

“She didn’t tell us anything because she was ashamed. She didn’t want us to worry. She was also afraid that we were going to contact the school, which we would have obviously done, had we known what she was going through. One of the paragraphs in her diary that hurt me the most was that she didn’t want us to think that we gave life to a “complete moron” “says Emilie’s mother.

“We met with the principal at the time, we also talked to her teachers. The answers were always the same: “her grades are excellent, everything is alright.” Some of them knew, but they did not assume responsibility,” she added in La Voix du Nord.

“She’s been through our lives like a shooting star.”

Emilie later tried to enroll in a vocational high school, where she was well accepted. But her health was too poor. She developed a school phobia, and quit school. After that she subsequently fell into depression.

On June 28, 1998, Emilie had wanted to come to this world so quickly that her mother almost gave birth in the ambulance.

On December 19, 2015, Emilie Monk decided to leave it just as quickly as she came on it. The teenager jumped off the balcony in her room. She died after a month in coma. She was 17 years old.

No one from the Notre-Dame de la Paix school of Lille, where Emilie spent 5 years, attended her funeral.

«Rester Fort», Emilie Monk (Editions Slatkine and co., 128 pages, €9,90)

NB: Emilie’s parents filed a complaint against the school and X. A judicial inquiry was opened.

Cédric Garrofé

Written by Cédric Garrofé

Professional journalist and founder of Vegemag. He has been interested in the animal welfare for nearly 15 years. He won the Suva Media Prize in 2018 and an Online Journalism Awards in 2017 with the editorial staff of the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.