Apple and Foxconn

I see they\’re still trotting out the suicide nonsense:

Wang Ling was 25 years old when she ended her life on 7 January 2011 by jumping from her brother\’s high-rise flat, days after being dismissed from her job as an engineer at Foxconn\’s Longhua factory. An employee of over six years\’ standing, she had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

It would be easy to dismiss Wang Ling\’s case as a tragic exception, were it not for the fact that she was the 15th Foxconn employee reported to have committed suicide since the beginning of 2010. There have been at least two since.

Yes, 17 suicides is 17 tragedies.

However, the firm has over 1 million workers. In a country where the average suicide rate across the whole population is 20-22 per 100,000 per year.

17 per million over two years, 20 per 100,000 per year.

There are a number of qualifications one can make to these suicide numbers it is still extraordinarily hard to make the case that this rate shows that conditions in Foxconn are worse than conditions in China generally.

17 thoughts on “Apple and Foxconn”

  1. Statistics can show whatever people want to slate. Most of the time they are completely out of context, as shown here. Similar to the APR stats with payday loans

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t see the obvious spin: this poor person didn’t commit suicide because of conditions in Foxconn, but because she was dismissed – ie, the world outside was worse. Presumably she’d have been OK if still employed.

  3. Poor woman was a diagnosed schizophrenic. Very high proportion of mentally ill people attempt suicide or self-harm.

  4. Maybe Foxconn dismissed her because she was diagnosed with schizophrenia? We aren’t given that information but it would be a rational way to link the suicide with an uncaring Foxconn.

    But then this is the Guardian and rationality is a rare resource.

  5. You would have thought that “days after being dismissed from her job as an engineer” and “she had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia” would be the reasons for the suicide and nothing to do with FoxConn.

  6. The Guardianistas would never have attacked Apple in the days when only they used Appke products and thus the company was cool.

    Now that the great unwashed are using iPhones en masse, they have turned against them. Apple hasn’t changed; they have.

  7. If only We could go back to the days when simple peasant farmers created Apple computers on looms in their own home, happily singing while their children sat around them.

  8. It is downright bizarre to use Wang Ling’s case to supposedly show that working conditions are bad at Foxconn. She wasn’t working there any more! She didn’t commit suicide while she was working there, she committed suicide after she was no longer working there and was no longer subject to their working conditions.

    The natural conclusion to draw is that she was upset because she wanted to be back there, because it was a job worth having. Or because she was schizo. Or whatever. Who knows? Call that spin if you like, but it’s hardly a convincing example.

  9. From here:

    A total of 342 nurses committed suicide in the six years to 1998, a rate of 11 per 100,000. Among doctors, 146 took their own lives between 1991 and 1998, a suicide rate of 13.5 per 100,000. The average suicide rate is seven per 100,000 but among women it is three per 100,000. The Liberal Democrats said the figures were based on statistics supplied by the British Medical Association, the UK Central Council for Nursing and Midwifery and the Office for National Statistics

    Old figures so they might be up or down from that now. Significantly higher than Foxconn it would seem.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    China manages to skew the whole world’s suicide figures for young women. In most countries it is young men who kill themselves. Not in China. So many young women do that the figures for the entire planet are changed.

    So a 25 year old woman killing herself is not a big surprise. You should look at the suicide rate for young women as a whole rather than just the national average. Although they usually do it just after marriage which does not look to be the case here.

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