Suspicious Rumours Follow Foxconn Suicide

Foxconn has today confirmed the death of a 23-year-old employee who fell to his death from a Foxconn company apartment. It's believed to be the first suicide since Foxconn and Apple reached an agreement over improving conditions for its 1.2 million workers who make the world's electronics.

Foxconn workers assemble the iPad and the iPhone, as well as the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. According to rumours online in China, authorities tried to cover up the suicide.

It's also the first suicide since reports earlier this month when apparently as many as 1000 workers rioted at Foxconn's Chengdu complex, the location of this week's suicide. The riot seems to have started over declining work time that is cutting into wages. The actual number of participants is unconfirmed and could be much lower.

There were unconfirmed rumours online that Chinese police officers ordered those who witnessed this week's suicide at the Chengdu complex to delete all photos and videos. Those who did not were allegedly threatened with arrest. Chengdu police also announced the death on its website, so if there is a cover-up, it's not a very good one.

The photo above was one that did not get deleted and supposedly shows the 23-year-old man before he jumped to his death. It's believed that this suicide is somehow connected to the recent riot in Chengdu.

Foxconn has been trying to improve working conditions and recently raised employee salaries by 16-25 per cent. However, there have been grumblings about fewer shifts and smaller pay packets.

In recent months, the threat of suicide has become something of a bargaining tool at Foxconn. In January, a group of Foxconn employees on the Xbox 360 line threatened to jump in a mass suicide due to a labour dispute.

Foxconn says plant worker jumps from apartment [Reuters] Foxconn Suicide in Chengdu: Did Authorities Request Witnesses to Remove All Evidence? [MIC]

Photo: Kin Cheung/AP/bianzhixin/Sina Weibo


    This is getting ridiculous. We all hate work, sure, but I'm really not feeling any sympathy for these people when I hear about suicide being used as a bargaining tool.

      wow.. that is harsh.

      China has a MASSSIVE suicide rate compared to every other country.. but that doesn't mean we should stop caring.

      Think about it for a moment.. you'd have to be pretty desperate to not only threaten suicide but to actually go through with it. Just think about it before you dismiss this as a bunch of disgruntled postal clerks who are unhappy with their cushy jobs.

        I understand how serious depression / suicide is. However, there is ALWAYS a better choice.

          That might be true, but it's easy to say when you're outside the situation. When you're in there you can't always see any other choices. Something like 5+ people kill themselves every day in Australia, in situations that may not be as crushing as what these workers face. It's not necessarily about your circumstances, it's about how you feel about them and how you value your life and chance of future happiness.

            Thanks for the insight. I guess I must concede that not everyone is so fortunate to be able to see betterment like myself.

          I think this is really naive. There are a lot of scenarios I can think of that are worse than death. Working in near to slave conditions would be one of them. I wouldn't even have to be depressed in this scenario to give suicide serious consideration.

          I think you need to understand the crushing hopelessness of their situation, they're pushed into a life where that's literally the only choice. China has hundreds of millions of youths where the only available unskilled labour is working at Foxconn where you work unholy hours, paid peanuts, and corralled like cattle between work and your dorm. They all do it because they hope that one day they'd save enough money to escape their situation, you don't think this would have any effect whatsoever on their mental fortitude? The average worker here would probably break in the first month with such working conditions, followed by therapy and antidepressants.

          I think it's extremely self-righteous for you to assume they're weak for taking their lives. If you have a computer, internet and leisure time to read Kotaku AU, then you've already 'made it.' We're the 1% of the world, who were laid right at the finish line at birth, there are billions less fortunate so we have no right to judge them.

      That's a real heartless and near sighted response Benny. You show a real lack of humanity and empathy in your post.

      Can you imagine the mental state that people have to be in to kill themselves, the devaluing of themselves and their life that they feel it is the only way to be heard. They aren't just threatening to kill themselves, 14 people killed themselves over poor working conditions in 2010 to the point where Foxconn actually installed suicide prevention netting at some of their facilities. Imagine if your workplace had to install nets to dissuade people from killing themselves there, imagine what sort of a place that would be to work at.

      Please think about it a bit more, and try a bit harder to find some sympathy for these people, or for anybody feeling suicidal for that matter, regardless of their circumstances.

        My humblest apologies to anyone upset / affected by my heartless comment. The point I am trying to get across is that suicide used as a bargaining chip makes no sense to me. The idea that someone threatens to better the circumstances for themselves or choose death - with no other options is insane. What's even worse is that the threat is a decision for someone else to decide, essentially, and not them self. I really think there is more the story here, and that is also my point. Sorry guys.

          Your coming from a very white middle class perspective. For many of these employees, its Foxconn or starve. The only bargaining chip they have is death. I think for many of them, its not just a threat, death is a rational preference to the working conditions they're subjected to.

          I know its hard to understand but sometimes the only way these people will be heard is if they give up their lives in the hope that if enough people do it someone influential may notice and change things for the other people in the same situation...

          Yeah no worries, I think I understand where you're reaction came from - it makes me angry too when I hear somebody using the threat of self harm as a bargaining tool, but it's important to see what's causing them to do that.

          I agree that it does seem insane, that it doesn't make sense. Suicide is terribly senseless. I think that most people who feel suicidal actually have had heaps of options available to them to get them out of the situation that is making them feel that way. But they can't see those options, or even imagine how they could feel happy if they took those options, which is why they need support and help from people who aren't going through it.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        Really necessary? Kids read this site, dude.

      You obviously don't know anything about the situation.

    & in other news Apple laughs all the way to the bank saying "u mad?"

    Any suicide is a tradgety but you so realize that this whole Foxconn thing is a press beat-up and the rate of suicides at Foxconn is actually less than the rate of suicides in China as a whole.Any group of 1.2 million people is gonna have suicides.

    None of the Foxxcon suicide victims have been over the age of 25? Is this true?

      They typically don't hire older workers since younger bodies are fitter and can work longer hours. Plus there is no shortage of Chinese youths wanting to work for them, so Foxconn can pick and choose at will.

    They work insane hours in extremely difficult working condition with no benefits or holidays, piss poor pay and get to sleep very little just so they can support their families & make Apple/MS products for greedy Western countries, who over-indulge on a daily basis with no care in the world for anyone but themselves.... I'm not surprised they get to the stage where they're so depressed that they commit suicide.

    And anyone who says suicide is a pathetic easy way out clearly have NO CLUE about depression. Something should indeed be done about these poor people. I remember reading awhile back that they're even forced to sign "suicide contracts". Could you imagine working somewhere like that in Australia? Us westerners really don't have a clue what it's like for some people in places like China.

    And when good employment is so hard to come by, they feel under pressure to send part of their money home to support brothers, sisters and parents too.. it's a cultural attitude i learned from my asian gf.

    We here in Aus would gladly do their job for them! If they opened a factory here. It beats watching X-factor or masterchef.

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