The suicide rate in China accounts for a quarter of the world’s entire population of people who take their own life. Some 300,000 a year. It is the main cause of death amongst young men between 15 and 34.
The reason is postulated as the transition from an economy where the government supported you from birth until death, to one where you must compete for jobs.
So the impression given by the current media interest in the 10 young men who have leapt to their death from the roof of the high-tech firm of Foxconn, makers of the favoured Western icons such as iPods and mobile phones is somewhat overwrought.
Given that there are 350,000 employees, the national statistics would predict around 45 suicides a year, so it is hard to fathom why the media have homed in on this story, unless it is a guilt trip for those Western purchasers of iPods…..
What is slightly surprising is the company’s reaction to those deaths, attributed by the Western media to the harsh factory conditions.
Did they employ a fleet of psychoanalysts to counsel their employees? No!
Perhaps they put up wages to compensate for the high stress? No!
Give everybody a couple of weeks off work to unwind? No!
Surely Valium sandwiches all round? Surely? No!
First they got everybody to sign a paper saying they would go to their Doctor if they felt depressed.
Then they fitted a net right round the factory at first floor level.
Now you can only jump from the seventh floor and land somewhere around the sixth floor.