The Foxconn Suicides

Created: 12/30/12
Last Edited: 08/04/13
Editorial illustration supporting a story about worker unrest in a Chinese factory.
  • The Foxconn Suicides
    Putting things together can tear you apart, or can it?
  • January, 2012: Around 150 Chinese workers at Foxconn, the world's largest electronics manufacturer, threatened to commit suicide by leaping from their factory roof in protest at their working conditions.

    The workers were eventually coaxed down after two days on top of their three-floor plant in Wuhan by Foxconn managers and local Chinese Communist party officials.

    Foxconn, which manufactures gadgets for the likes of Apple, Sony, Nintendo and HP, among many others, has had a grim history of suicides at its factories. A suicide cluster in 2010 saw 18 workers throw themselves from the tops of the company's buildings, with 14 deaths.

    In the aftermath of the suicides, Foxconn installed safety nets in some of its factories and hired counsellors to help its workers.

  • Although the number of workplace suicides at the company is large in absolute terms, the suicide rate is still low when compared to the rest of China although the country has a high suicide rate with over 20 deaths per 100,000 persons. In 2010, Foxconn's worst year for workplace suicides with a total of 14 deaths, their total employee count was 930,000 people. The workplace suicide rate for Foxconn that year was 1.5 per 100,000 making it well below the national average suicide rate (around 7% of the national average). Even when calculated as if all the employee deaths were from the Shenzhen factory complex alone (to simulate a localized area suicide rate), which in 2010 had a workforce of 450,000, the rate is still well below the national average at 3.11 per 100,000 (around 14% the national average).
  • Comparative Suicide Rates
    South Korea
    31.7 deaths per 100,000 persons (2011)
    22.23 deaths per 100,000 persons (2011)
    16 deaths per 100,000 persons (2002)    
    12 deaths per 100,000 persons (2009)
    6.9 deaths per 100,000 persons (2009)   
    1.5 deaths per 100,000 persons (2010)
    0.0 deaths per 100,000 persons (2003)
    Statistics are from World Health Organization:
    "Suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex (Table)"

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