Unexplained Suicides at Apple Inc. Factory in China
Unexplained Suicides at Apple Inc. Factory in China

Protestors from SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior) burn effigies of Apple iPhones near the offices of Foxconn in Hong Kong on May 25. The founder of Foxconn Group on Monday broke his silence over a string of suicides by its employees.  (Mike Clarke/Getty Images)
Protestors from SACOM (Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior) burn effigies of Apple iPhones near the offices of Foxconn in Hong Kong on May 25. The founder of Foxconn Group on Monday broke his silence over a string of suicides by its employees. (Mike Clarke/Getty Images)
Record suicides have plagued Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturer whose products include iPhones and Nintendo, raising fears that work conditions at the facility are substandard.

To date, 10 workers have committed suicide and three others were injured in unsuccessful attempts. The most recent Foxconn employee jumped to his death on May 26.

The Taiwan-based Foxconn has two factories in China—one in Shenzhen and the other in Longhua, both north of Hong Kong.

Substandard Conditions

The Foxconn factory is believed to be one of the largest in the world, employing 300,000 workers at Longhua and 120,000 in Shenzhen.

Foxconn is also the world’s largest production facility of iPhones, iPods and MacBooks, as well as PlayStation consoles for Sony, motherboards for Intel, and various products for Dell, Nintendo, and Hewlett-Packard.

However, employment at the facilities has been compared to a military regime, where 10-hour workdays are the norm and overtime is enforced.

Communication is strictly banned on the work floor and complaints have been made that the production lines move too fast. Workers live in crowded 12-to-a-room dormitories and are allowed only one day off each week.

It is not surprising that stress levels at the facilities could be high, and appropriate counseling is scarce.

One man was a 23-year-old from Gansu Province, who had worked at the factory since June 2009. According to a report by China News Service, he jumped from a dormitory at Foxconn’s Longhua factory in Shenzhen.

Another victim, a 23-year-old man who had only worked at the factory since March, attempted to slit his wrists. He was taken to hospital and is reported to be out of danger.

Other forms of suicide included one woman hanging herself in the bathroom and a man mysteriously drowning in the company swimming pool.

Ironically, the death of the latest victim came hours after Foxconn Group President Terry Guo flew to Shenzhen to handle the crisis in person on May 26.


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