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Has Foxconn installed new anti-suicide nets? The company hasn't announced officially.  (Source: Gizmodo)
Wish you would step back from that ledge my friend./ You could cut ties with all the lies / That you've been living in.

Increasing attention has been paid to the sharp increase in suicides this year at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory which manufactures iPods, iPads, and iPhones. It also fills orders from a broad list of clientele including Dell, HP, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony.  With at least one employee dying from exhaustion as well, the pressure is on for Foxconn and its Taiwanese owner Hon Hai Precision Industry Ltd. to enact changes.

In the long term Foxconn is considering moving to Vietnam in order to lower labor costs, or replacing employees with robots at an automated facility in Taiwan.  For now, it's using other measures to try to cut the suicide rate in China in the short term.

Among these measures appear to be a set of newly installed safety nets at some of its facilities.  A tipster sent a photo of some of these nets in to 
Gizmodo.  As the site points out, the company has put out no official release about the nets, which span between the kind of residential high rises that employees have previously jumped from.  The nets may serve some other purpose, but its appears they may have at least been in part put up to cushion employees' falls.

Foxconn is also raising its employees wages.  And its brought in a host of experts including Buddhist monks to release the souls of the dead from purgatory and to flood the plant floors with soothing melodies.  It also has created "anger rooms" in which its employees can beat away their rage and frustration.

Most U.S. manufacturers turn a blind eye to these kind of issues in China.  However, after much criticism Apple has taken to conducting yearly working condition studies.  Its latest one showed a variety of problems including overworked, underpaid employees, and the use of child labor

In the wake of these problems Apple and other U.S. firms have shown some signs that they're looking to adopt firmer stances with their suppliers to reduce these kinds of problems.

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RE: So
By MozeeToby on 6/29/2010 10:15:34 AM , Rating: 5
Actually research has been done that shows this kind of thing actually does lower the suicide rate. When they finally put nets under the Golden Gate Bridge, for example, they found that the suicide rate in the city dropped by more than half of the number that normally committed suicide that way. Same goes for other 'anti-suicide' devices.

It seems counter intuitive, but the explanation in the article I read was that suicide is a long drawn out process that often starts with a single thought about the specific method and moves forward from there. If they eventually come to realize that committing suicide in that specific way won't work it can often short circuit the process.

RE: So
By metaltoiletry on 6/29/2010 10:49:52 AM , Rating: 2
It would be interesting to look into whether or not the suicide rates went up at all in the surrounding areas. Like, if the people found other places to jump or not.

RE: So
By amanojaku on 6/29/2010 10:54:50 AM , Rating: 2
My point exactly. They won't jump off the roof at Foxconn, hell, they might not kill themselves at work at all. But a suicidal person will still find a means. The root cause is what needs to be addressed: the abusive management at Foxconn.

RE: So
By IcePickFreak on 6/29/2010 10:16:36 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the whole reason for the suicides was that they are always at work? (along with the meager pay for it)

RE: So
By MozeeToby on 6/29/2010 11:12:15 AM , Rating: 3
Like I said, the studies have been done.
Importantly — and contrary to conventional wisdom — the researchers did not find an increase in jumps from other buildings or bridges in the area. In other words, people didn’t just go find another bridge to jump from.
According to the paper, “Researchers found that just the presence of the net stopped people from even trying to jump off the Munster Terrace, a medieval cathedral located in the old section of Bern, from which two or three people had been leaping to their deaths every year. They also found that the net did not shift suicides to other locations.”
It appears I was thinking of a different bridge, the Golden Gate doesn't yet have suicide nets. It will be interesting to see how effective they are at reducing suicides, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular suicide location in the world and if they ever get the nets installed it should affect the suicide statistics of the area significantly.

RE: So
By kmmatney on 6/29/2010 3:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
They put up nets during the Golden Gate Bridges construction, which saved a lot of lives. I seem to recall that it had pretty tall railings when I walked on it years ago.

RE: So
By wolrah on 6/30/2010 12:52:49 AM , Rating: 2
One difference in this case may be that many people didn't (and still don't) know about the nets under the bridge, so they could reach the point of having a plan built up over time which they then realize won't work.

In this case, Foxconn employees obviously see these things every day, so I think they'll just plan their suicides in different ways. I don't know how much planning people tend to put in to a suicide, but unless the root causes are addressed (which it seems like they're at least kinda trying to do, though it seems half-assed from the perspective of an American) I expect to see the Foxconn suicide rate go back up in whatever time frame that is.

Of course I could be entirely talking out of my ass here.

Another thought that crossed my mind as I typed "Foxconn suicide rate" is whether this is common at other similar plants. I'd assume Foxconn isn't an anomaly and that competitors of theirs treat their employees similarly, so I wonder if we're only hearing so much about this company due to the connection with the beloved-by-the-news Apple product line. Just kinda thinking out loud there.

*Note: last line is not intended as anti-Apple in any way, have owned three generations of Mac notebook and use both an iPod and an iPhone every day. Can't deny that the media loves Apple though.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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