Unions attack lack of safety measures after suicides at France's national library


In the last ten years at least seven people have killed themselves by jumping from the terraces or plaza of a site at France's national library, the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand in Paris. Meanwhile on December 8th this year a girl fell from the iconic building and is now in a critical condition. Trade unions representing staff at the library say that not enough work has been done to make the site safe. Meanwhile management suggests such measures might be “ineffective” and say they also have to consider keeping the building's “architectural integrity”. Mathilde Goanec reports.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

A small forest with a magnificent canopy lies at the heart of France's national library site in Paris, the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand. The building, designed by architect Dominique Perrault, and whose distinctive towers are in the form of open books, has overlooked the River Seine in the south-east of the capital since 1995. Its raised plaza with wooden boards, a space open to the elements, was quick to attract visitors and passers-by.

However, over the last decade or so years a series of tragic events have cast a shadow over this beautiful spot. Six people have jumped from the elevated plaza, plunging into the mini-forest at the centre of the building. None of them survived. Two other people have fallen from the building's 'forest streets', though they did not die. And in 2015 an employee killed themselves by jumping from the T3 tower into the forest garden. More recently, at around 5am on December 8th this year, a girl fell accidentally when she was walking on the guardrail, according to a witness. She is still said to be in a critical condition. This latest tragedy brings the number of falls at the site to four in 2019, of which one was fatal.