Montreux family deaths: police suspect collective suicide

© Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Four members of a French family who died after jumping from a block of flats in Montreux in western Switzerland last week, most probably died by suicide, local police reported on Tuesday. A fifth member – a 15-year-old boy – remains in a coma.

This content was published on March 29, 2022 minutes

The 40-year-old father and 41-year-old mother, their eight-year-old daughter and the mother's twin sister died on March 24. 

The police reportedExternal link on Tuesday that they had jumped one after the other just before 7am over a five-minute period from their apartment balcony from a height of 20 metres.

The police have ruled out the involvement of any third party.

There were also no reports of any unusual noises or shouting from the apartment or balcony, the police said. Officers discovered a stepladder on the balcony but no signs of any struggle.

Conspiracy and survivalist theories

The family had arrived in Montreux from France about two years ago. The police are still unclear about why they jumped from their apartment balcony in the lakeside town.

The investigation has not revealed any obvious warning signs. The police nonetheless indicated that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the family had been “very interested in conspiracy and survivalist theories”.

The family had built up a large stock of food and medicine packed in boxes that occupied most of the apartment. “This stock was to enable it to face a major crisis,” the statement said.


The police said the family had withdrawn from society and was living almost self-sufficiently with “a fear that the authorities might interfere in their way of life”.

The father reportedly had an independent online ticketing business. The mother's twin sister was the only one who worked outside the home as an ophthalmologist. Neither the mother nor the young girl were officially registered with the local authorities, which explained why she did not attend school.

The police said the mother and the daughter had been originally due to travel to Morocco in April 2016. “They were not supposed to live in Montreux,” it noted.

The eldest son had been schooled at home. Last week’s tragic incident happened as two police officers arrived at the flat early on March 24 in relation to a home schooling issue. The officers, who were present from 6.15am, rang at the family’s apartment but no one opened the door and they left shortly after.

“Our theory is that they were extremely scared that the authorities, whoever they might be, would interfere in their lives. The father had to give some explanations about the home schooling. He had not replied to all the formal requests sent to him. That’s why the police were sent,” Vaud police spokesperson Jean-Christophe Sauterel told the Keystone-SDA news agency.

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