Sylvain Augier talks about his desire to commit suicide: “I took my motorbike. I went to the level crossing, where the TGV passes, and I got on the tracks. »

February 03, 2024 / Jerome Goulon

From 1990 to 2005, Sylvain Augier was one of the great figures of France 3, hosting Faut pas rêver and La Carte aux Trésors. Now retired from the media, he confesses like never before in a book, I am coming back from far, in which he recounts his descent into hell, his paragliding accident, his addiction to morphine, his bipolar disorder and even his suicide attempt. On this occasion, we interviewed him in our December issue. A moving interview to be found in full here!

Marie Giancani: Hello Sylvain. Let’s take a look back at your journey. Did you have a taste for adventure and the media very early on?
Sylvain Augier: Yes. It took me when I was 13. It was in May 68. When I saw Julien Besançon, who was a journalist for Europe 1 at the time, covering the barricades and the tear gas shots. I said to myself: “This is the job I have to do, otherwise my life will have no point!” » So I found my vocation. Barely back from my military service in Nicaragua, I was hired at France Inter thanks to André Turcat, Concorde pilot. He liked me. So he gave me a blow with the piston. He contacted France Inter and the news director, and I was hired as a reporter.

After radio, how did you end up on TV?
I roamed the corridors of Radio France for 15 years, and then one day, I went to see Philippe Gildas at Canal+ to talk to him about a project. He said to me: “I’m interested in your idea.” It was a commercial blooper. IAnd then later, George Pernoud, who presented Thalassa, hired me on France 3. First for the sports and adventure afternoons, and then to do Faut pas rêver. It lasted almost 10 years. In the meantime, I had met Michel Drucker, whom I dreamed of meeting, and who became a friend. Besides, my only real friend in this profession is Michel Drucker.

Did you dream of meeting Michel Drucker?
Yes. When I was 13, I watched him on television and said to myself, “I want to be like him.” It turns out that Faut pas rêver was being filmed in Studio Gabriel and Michel asked me if I had any ideas. I told him: “We could shoot France from the sky”, he told me no! And There you go. Alain Vautier, who was in charge of the programs, and who launched La Carte aux Trésors, said to himself: “Augier as pilot of the white helicopter, that would be a good idea! »And I did it for 10 years.

" More no one recognizes me in the street, but I don't care. »

Do you miss fame?
No. I haven't been on air for 10 years, no one recognizes me in the street anymore, but I don't care. I do not care.  I met extraordinary people like Abbé Pierre, Sister Emmanuelle, Maurice Béjart, and so on, some of the best. These encounters have much more importance in my mind than the temporary notoriety that television gives you. After these meetings, notoriety becomes a superficial notion of no interest.

Are you rich when you're a star host?
Star animators earn a very good living. Me, when I was making The Treasure Map and Don't Dream, I earned a royal living. And then both stopped and I had a much more modest lifestyle. TV can end very quickly. You should not do this job to chase money. We become mercenaries at that moment.

It's often said that the world of television is ruthless. It's the case ?
Yes. I was thrown out of The Treasure Map under the pretext that I had had a motorcycle accident in Corsica a few months before… I am not sure that there was a cause and effect link, but we must accept the fact that we can be easily replaceable. Which was the case. They replaced me with Marc Bessou, they fired him after a year. They took Nathalie Simon, they fired her after two years and now they're doing it with... Um... Cyril... What's his name? Which I don't know, eh. I'm not judging, I haven't watched his shows. But we are all replaceable. Watch Ardisson and his show Tout le monde en talk. He was fired from the air overnight for an excuse I don't know. In the world of television, there is an unpredictable side, with settling of scores and changes of leadership.

Was George Pernoud a more beautiful encounter, but also a source of disappointment?
The worst meeting I had was Pernoud, because he chose me without giving me advice. It was only criticism and then one day he called me and said: “With you, we're going to the wall! » I left offended, outraged. I never understood why he said that to me, or what I had done wrong. This is part of the settling of scores that we were talking about earlier. I still had two gold 7s, that wasn't nothing. 

It is said that the loss of Thalassa caused his death...
Of course it caused his death. He wanted to save Thalassa and his head messed up... I am totally convinced: he died from the loss of the show Thalassa.

"Dn the world of television, there is an unpredictable side, with settling of scores and changes of leadership. »

In your case, was your ouster from television the beginning of your descent into hell?
No. It was a wake-up call. Suddenly, I was making less money. So I had to reduce the sail. I told myself that I had to adapt to my new situation and learn to live without the notoriety, without the money. I had to learn to live more humbly, more normally.  But when I think about my bipolarity and my accident, it puts the problems into perspective. I know what's serious and what's not. Anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger. 

In 1988, you were the victim of a paragliding accident. A long and painful convalescence begins and leads to an addiction to morphine. Tell us…
The sail I had taken was unstable, it closed in two, it fell apart and I hit the slope with startling speed. Suddenly, I found myself with my foot hanging at the end of an artery, my arm folded over the other arm and my elbow and shoulder dismantled. I said to myself: “God has abandoned me, I’m going to stay here, I’m going to lose all my blood and I’m not going to make it.” Then the helicopter arrived and they saved me. I suffered from gangrene, a bone infection, there were several failed grafts… I wanted to keep my foot. My foot has regrafted with the muscles of the back, the skin of the thigh and the nerves of the legs. I took a lot of morphine. Today I limp and walk slowly, but it's a miracle. All this to tell you that after having experienced the paragliding accident, the pain, and the transplants, I put problems into perspective when they arise.

For morphine addiction, was it Carol, your wife, who helped you quit?
I confessed my addiction to him before leaving for a film shoot. The Treasure Map in Morocco. I told him :  “This is where I am, I take 4 ampoules of synthetic morphine every two days. » She searched me, took away everything I had and flushed everything down the toilet. And she told me, “If you continue, I’ll leave you.” The moment she told me that, I said to myself: “I’ll stop, I don’t want to lose her.” She saved me.  I had to learn to live with a pain that I know well, I feel it when talking to you.

And following that, you were diagnosed with bipolar…
I lived with bipolarity for many years without knowing it. I wasn't diagnosed until two years after my accident. I've had anxiety since I was little, I talk about it in the book. Once you are diagnosed, you are not cured. There are big drops in morale. What you need is to find the psychiatrist who finds the right treatment for you. I ended up finding a psychiatrist here, in Gard, in Sommières, who prescribed the treatment I needed.  Psychiatry is evolving, there is progress.

In 2010, at age 55, you attempted to end your life. Did it come on a whim? Tell us about this episode…
That's all I've been thinking about for 6 months: killing myself. I had bought a rope, a pipe to asphyxiate myself in my son's car and lithium in large quantities to destroy my kidneys... I had also wanted to buy an automatic weapon, but I had not been able to. I had also ordered €2 of product in the United States that veterinarians use to kill animals and that we use in Switzerland and Belgium to leave quickly. So that’s telling you, I was really only thinking about that. It was awful. When I think about it, I find it hard to imagine that this happened to me.

And so you almost took action…
Yes. One evening, I couldn't take it anymore. I felt bad about myself, I told myself that it had to stop. It was a panic attack, I was home alone. I took a piece of paper, wrote “Carol” with her cell number and got on my motorcycle. I went to the level crossing, where the TGV passes, and I got on the tracks. I waited, waited, waited, telling myself that this was the right solution, that it was going to stop, that I wouldn't have any more pain. The locomotive arrived, and there was an animal terror, probably the reptilian brain. A TGV arriving in front of you is terrifying, so I made a gap of two meters. I let the TGV pass and I said to myself immediately afterwards: “If I had committed suicide, it would be the end of my suffering, but it would be the beginning of the suffering of those I love. » So I would never commit suicide, that's it. But I went far to come to this positive conclusion.

You had been off television for 5 years when you attempted to end your life.  If you had still been on the air, would you have fallen this low?
No. I was no longer on television as you say, no one was waiting for me anymore. But since then, Carol had the good idea to suggest that I do something with the town hall of Sommières. I receive prestigious writers like Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Laurent Gounelle, Bernard Werber, Boris Cyrulnik, soon Philippe Labro. It gives me something to do. But the question I ask myself is: afterward, what do I do?

Was there someone in the media who heard from you after your suicide attempt?
Nobody knew. At the time, I didn't talk about it at all. I was unable to formulate anything about this attempt. It came a long time later. Besides, it took me a lot of maturity to release my book, because I'm exposing myself. I said to myself: “Come on, too bad, maybe it will be useful to someone, and for me, in any case, it makes me feel good to tell it.” But I never told anyone, not even my wife. My family didn't know about it. I wasn't proud of myself...

How have you been feeling since the book was published?
Relieved, because it exists. Just being able to complete it and make it public made me feel good. I feel light.

Today, what energizes you and helps you get up in the morning?
Maybe become a writer, write day by day.  We'll see. Every morning, I take my treatment domestically, and if I'm worried, I take the day minute by minute.

Would you like to do TV again?
It depends on who it is, and what it is…

If you could describe the person you were before your suicide attempt and the man you are today?
The person before the book is: in doubt. And now it is: the pleasure of a team which believed in a successful bet, a bet which turned out to be successful. I am pleased with our agreement and the result…