Life Style

After the fall, make young people aware of risky behavior

A wooden panel “In loving memory” is placed in the entrance of the family house. It was brought by Jean’s friends on the day of his funeral … “These friends to whom Jean sent a photo of his feet overlooking Lisbon”, tells her mother, Hélène Decherf-Défossez. A photo taken from the top of a crane at 2 am on March 8, 2020. Just before falling from it. The young man should have celebrated his 20th birthday four days later.

To recover, this trainer in communication and management decided to make young people aware of risk taking. She created the association Un instant, une vie, wrote a book, My zebra killed itself, and a room, Adrenaline (1).

→ MAINTENANCE. “In adolescence, autonomy is a question of risk taking”

“Wow, it’s beautiful Lisbon at night …” These words, the young actor who plays Jean pronounces them in the play, presented especially in high schools and higher establishments. “Jean has always been looking for thrills, going off-piste for example, says his bereaved mother. He couldn’t imagine he could die. There are many accidents like his, related to height, or to water too …

He didn’t know failure

“Are you angry with Jean? “, a student recently asked him. “Either we ruminate on our anger all our life, or we transform it into an action that makes sense, Hélène Decherf-Défossez replied. Jean’s death is the tragedy of my life but I had the strength to do something positive with it so no, I’m not angry. “

Adolescence and risk taking

During another performance, Professor Olivier Cottencin, psychiatrist and addictologist at Lille University Hospital, exposed this statistic: 80% of people reward themselves with appeasement, 20% with excitement. “John was clearly in the second group… He kept saying, ‘But what can happen to me?’ “, his mother confides. More than once she thought to herself that he must have a good Guardian Angel. “He was not a hothead, he also knew how to be the moderator of the group. But his friends testify to the intensity with which he lived each moment spent in their company. “

Everything worked for him, he did not know failure. A brilliant student – preparatory to Henri-IV then HEC – Jean had an impressive capacity for work, sleeping little and enjoying watching the sunrise. “I was asked if he hadn’t committed suicide. Impossible “, says his mom. Even though, according to her, he perhaps sensed in an unconscious way that his life would be short.

Madness of heights

Even today, the atrocious reality remains difficult to imagine. “Jean died 2,000 km away, in Portugal, it took thirteen days to repatriate the body, tells this tall brunette woman endowed with a beautiful strength of character. The Covid put everyone on hold, every day we were imposed new restrictions. It was insane… ”These unprecedented circumstances dictate to him to write, a book then the play. “The theater carries me, I have been doing it for years. After the death of Jean, everything very quickly imposed itself on me, I had to do prevention. “

TO ANALYSE. How to deal with bereavement as a family?

This thirty-five minute single on stage, accompanied on the piano, is a concentrate of life and love. A cry of alarm too: take risks, yes, but not at any cost. No question of moralizing, blaming or distilling fears among young people who need to experiment for themselves. “Life is a risk, love is a risk”, reminds the trainer. The autopsy revealed that Jean had been drinking a little. But for his parents, more than alcohol, it was this madness for heights, this need to constantly surpass oneself, that killed him. A precocious child, their son was two years early. “He was undoubtedly immature in some ways. “

Provoke discussions

Her husband and two daughters take their own path of mourning. That of Hélène Decherf-Défossez goes through this visceral need to jostle young people, to provoke discussion: “Educate young people to be self-aware, so that they think twice before taking a risk. The theater is an excellent catharsis: the emotion felt allows the brain to mark in the memory this notion of risk and to remember it for a long time. “

She doesn’t have all the answers, never will. “The room is self-sufficient. I warn, I raise awareness but I am not a shrink, I do not have infused science. Just the certainty that it is better to do more than less to avoid dying at 20, like Jean, in an accident of terrifying stupidity. Because there is no second chance. “


His inspiration: the mountains and the light of Nice

“Nice is a real source of comfort for me”, says Hélène Decherf-Défossez. This northern girl fell in love with this southern city, “For the blue of the sky and the sea, the mountains and the light”. A light that the flat country lacks during winter. Three years ago, with her husband, they bought an apartment there. To admire the immensity of the sea, enjoy the heritage of this city “Italian” and fill up on the sun. “Jean went there shortly before his death, says the mother. When I picked him up at Lesquin airport with his friend, he told me how much he enjoyed swimming and even diving in the Mediterranean. We were in the middle of February …


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