After 9 suicides in 5 months, and reports of brutal working conditions, Apple and Dell say they are investigating the working conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer that builds iPads, iPhones and other gadgets.
But while it’s obviously a tragedy that any one person, let alone 9, ever commits suicide, let’s be clear about one thing: the suicide rate at Foxconn is not particularly high.
In fact, at 5.4 suicides per 100,000 people (400,000 people work at Foxconn), the Foxconn suicide rate is lower than it is in all 50 U.S. states.
In Wyoming, where the population is 512,757, and there are no sweatshops, 22.6 people per 100,000 commit suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In California, the rate is 9.2 – New York, 6.9.
We are not suggesting that working conditions at Foxconn are good. We’ve seen too much evidence that they are horrible to say that.
It’s just that these suicides are not such evidence. If anything, considering these working conditions, it is remarkable the rate of suicide at Foxconn is so low.
Here’s Apple’s statement on the matter, via Philip Elmer-DeWitt:
“We are saddened and upset by the recent suicides at Foxconn. Apple is deeply committed to ensuring that conditions throughout our supply chain are safe and workers are treated with respect and dignity. We are in direct contact with Foxconn senior management and we believe they are taking this matter very seriously.”
Foxconn is putting up nets around its facility to catch anyone that jumps. It’s also asking employees to sign a pledge that they will not kill themselves.
Foxconn manufactures iPhones and iPads, as well as assorted Dell products.
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