In France, a math teacher set herself on fire on Friday. The 44-year-old educator from Beziers, who has not been named, poured gasoline over herself in the school's playground and lit herself ablaze.

It seemed totally strange and unreal. I saw a body on fire going forward with her hands on her head. Several of us tried to put it out. She kept saying, 'No, leave me, I don't need your help. God told me to do this,' a student named Karim told the BBC.

Other teachers rushed to her aid, throwing blankets over her body. The teacher was helicoptered to the hospital with third degree burns. She is expected to survive.

Self-immolation is often a political act of defiance or protest, but the event Friday seemed to have no such roots. The teacher was said to have been depressed, and was upset after a meeting with several troubled students. The teacher was described by education minister Luc Chatel as someone in a situation of great fragility.

The incident marked the third time in a year someone associated with French schools has set themselves on fire. In January, a school-boy self-immolated in Marseille and in November, an 18-year-old student in Bordeaux set himself on fire.

We must be aware of what is being called teachers' fatigue, of professional problems, of the suffering at work that, while we see it in other professions, is more and more present within the education system, a joint statement from France's teachers unions said, according to the Expatica journal.

About 80 students are being counseled by a psychological crisis cell and classes have been suspended until Monday.