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back to article Another suicide at Apple's Chinese supplier

Yet another employee of the world's largest electronics assembler - Foxconn, maker of products for Apple, HP, and others - has has killed herself. The Associated Press reports that the 24 year-old woman's death brings the total of suicidal Foxconn workers to eight for the year. Bloomberg puts the total at six. The Taipei Times …

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meh

PRC suicide rate is 13.9 people per 100,000 per year.

Foxconn reportedly has 330,000 employees.

This wouldn't even be a story if Foxconn wasn't an Apple supplier.

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Just because...

...they are within statistical limits does not make it right.

Assuming you figure is accurate, and as you do not cite source I can't be sure it is. WHO has some data from 2003 http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suiciderates/en/ Other suites report figures of 250,000-300,000 (e.g http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jul/26/china.jonathanwatts) Given that China has about 1.3 billion people in it, this gives a suicide rate of around 21 per 100,000, higher than what you quote.

Perhaps Foxconn are doing something, but in such a climate they are pissing into the wind. The Apple angle certainly makes it newsworthy, but that does not change the fact that there is something deeply wrong in China.

Having just said that, the suicide rates for males in the USA is higher than for males in China according to WHO.

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Jobs Horns

I wonder....

I wonder if it has anything to do with this...

Another iPhone 4G found

http://mashable.com/2010/05/12/another-iphone-4g-found/

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Big Brother

Yeah, and...

I don't expect anybody to be startled by this news. It is news, but apple isn't the only company using sweatshops. and you don't see those other big companies going out of business because of it. Quite the opposite is true. outsourcing seems to be the only thing keeping most companies viable & competitive. It may be close to slavery, but hey, what are YOU gonna do about it?

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to put it in perspective

imagine if the suicides had been at a BP, Enron, Blackwater or Exxon primary supplier. Would anyone give a rip about the "average" of suicides at all? Or would the Apple defenders join up in the inevitable media frenzy that would end up with the current Administration exploiting the situation for more taxes, regulation, and mandated unelected Administration cronies as majority shareholders/board members?

Just because something is bad, and somebody else "did the same thing", does not give the next bad event a free pass.

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FAIL

Not buy Apple?

Simple enough. I don't buy Nike, Nestle or any Israeli goods for similar reasons. It might not seem like much, in fact it probably isn't much, but it is something I (and anyone else) can do.

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Dead Vulture

Come on, reg, write some real news stories

6 or 8 suicides on a workforce of 300'000 people?

The suicide rate in China is around 13 per 100'000, according to the Wikicult.

If the company had only 8 suicides this year, they are already way under the national average.

It might well be that people suicide for reasons that are entirely unrelated to their job, you know...

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FAIL

Wikipedia?

FFS. Wikipedia is not a a good source of data. Do not rely on Wikipedia for anything. If Wikipedia says the sky is green, try looking out the bloody window and making sure.

Why in the name of hell do people think that Wikipedia is the oracle of all truth when it manifestly isn't?

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Unhappy

Statistcally average?

Any suicide is tragic, but for a company that employs over 300,000 people and for a country with an average annual suicide rate of approx 14 suicides per 100,000 people per year, this doesn't seem particularly abnormal.

Wonder what the suicide rate of other very large IT companies is? Probably in line with the profile of the countries where they employ people I'd suspect.

A non-story then?

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Megaphone

No life to look forward to...

Suicides per 100,000 population across the whole population seems a crude gloss to throw over this. Let's see... female in a land of way too many bachelors, 24 years old and not exactly facing the lack of health/social safety net that the elders face, employed when many aren't, and probably had some skills.

Maybe it was social crudities in the workplace? Hmm, reading this from home, so I'm safe. Warn _your_ workmates though, okay?

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Actually, China has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world where women suicide more often than men...

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Jobs Halo

Seriously...

...not that big of a deal.

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WTF?

Quite good compared to France Telecom.

24people/ 1.5 years / 180.000 employees. Do the maths, it's 5 times the ratio. I know, it's not funny.

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Bronze badge

If it's that great a company to work for...

... why is anyone committing suicide? Surely the rates should be lower than in the rest of the country if it's such a workers' paradise.

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FAIL

They are...

Suicide rates at Foxconn are still *much* lower than the Chinese national average...

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Kudos

The headline, and subtitle, made for a bit of dark comedy fun for me.

"Today in the news: Satan has returned to the earth and is taking all first born children and converting them to demons to rape their own parents.

....Film at 11."

Yes, I'm going to hell for laughing.

Steven R

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Everyone's sweatshop

While the pressure of dealing with high profile products may be a factor in the previous suicide, Foxconn is not just an Apple supplier. If you look at any nearly any mobo, you'll see the Foxconn components all over it.

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WTF?

Agreed

Yep. As well as Foxconn components being present in just about everything, where I work we've also been purchasing a fair amount of Foxconn branded products.

To call them an "Apple supplier" is to massively understate how prolific they are.

(Grammar Nazis - I spotted the split infinitive but decided to intentionally leave it in as a special treat for you. That one too.)

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Linux

Choices.

>It may be close to slavery, but hey, what are YOU gonna do about it?<

Ensure I don't buy the produce that company sells. I may only be a grain of sand (as was she), neither of us ever gonna change the tide, but I ain't ever gonna stop trying.

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Badgers

Well

How cynical are we that we see this as a non-story? Those were real people with clearly quite shit lives working for a company building Western luxury items. Just because their employer clearly doesn't believe in duty of care shouldn't make us dismiss a real human tragedy. That person can now never own an iProduct. You are all very horrible human beings.

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Coat

Designed in California, made in hell!

The people who make iPhones will probably never be able to afford one in their wildest dreams. Yet they all must know from all the publicity that it's one of the most sort after products in the whole world. It's kind of pathetic on so many levels.

But hey, It's consumerism! Lets all go out and buy iPads and download apps that let us piss money up the wall on reading news you can get for free using the browser!

To keep things neutral I should really say that its not just just apple stuff this applies too - apparently the mouse I'm using (Microsoft basic optical mouse) might of been made with child labour a according to a recent report!

Mines the one made using child labour.

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Coat

Misread title

There was me thinking that it was Apple's local provider of schezuan beef. In which case, you've got to really ask yourself, is it beef?...

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WTF?

@ all who think it's statistically insignificant

France Telecom tried to use the same argument. However, that "average of X suicides per 100K" covers the whole population, which includes those with mental health issues, or no job, or a variety of other personal issues which aren't always compatible with holding down a decent job.

I wonder what the statistic would be like if you only considered those in reasonably good employment (whether Foxconn really qualifies as this is debatable, it would seem, but assembling hi-tech gadgets in long shifts would seem better than quite a few of the jobs knocking around in China).

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@@ all who...

While statistical analysis of comparative suicide rates for employed vs unemployed people have been done in developed, western countries (e.g. Irish Republic 1996-2006) have been done and give around a 4-fold increase in RISK (not rate) it is not valid to apply these figures to a country with completely different social and economic conditions, like China (do you know what Chinese pay rates and unemployment benefits are - I don't).

We have not real facts in this case bar - employed, female. Was she the CTO, a cleaner or a drone in sector 7G doing 14 hour shifts 6 days a week on the assembly line? While she was employed had she been subject to workplace harassment, official disciplinary process or told her job was up for redundancy that day? Was she some super-human with no mental health issues at all or did she have some underlying mental illness (communist countries in general have a poor record accepting and treating mental illness and probably not a barrier to employment)?

In such a situation all you can (justifiably) do is a very high level statistical analysis based on the national rates as most commenters have done.

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Unhappy

@@@ all who...

I completely agree, but that just highlights why the comparison should not be made. Lord knows the average working conditions in China aren't far up from "shabby" in a lot of the industries. In 2006, average wage was a smidge over $2K (not sure about cost of living, but you can apparently get a small apartment in Shanghai for around £60/mo, and I know everything else is very cheap compared to UK standards). Anecdotally, the unemployment benefits over there are not very good, either.

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Anonymous Coward

Did they fall?.....

...or were they pushed? Even figuratively? Just asking...

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Purloined, Rik ?

«... a fate that makes the experience of Gizmodo's Jason Chen and his purloined iPhone 4G rather tame». I haven't seen any evidence presented to the effect that the telephone of which Jason Chen was briefly in possession before sending it back to Apple was purloined - the current story is that an Apple employee left it on a bar stool and never came back to claim it. Does Rik Myslewski know something the rest of us don't - or is this simply yet another example of sloppy Reg journalism ?...

Henri

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