Originally Posted by SolipsismX
That's an interesting statistic but I'm more interested in how Foxconn matches up to its competitors? I have to think depression is commonly a factor of suicide and that people who can't find jobs or work for various reasons may be more likely to get depressed.
Wikipedia had this to say on suicide factors:
Higher levels of social and national cohesion reduce suicide rates. Suicide levels are highest among the retired, unemployed, impoverished, divorced, the childless, urbanites, empty nesters, and other people who live alone. Suicide rates also rise during times of economic uncertainty (although poverty is not a direct cause, it can contribute to the risk of suicide). Epidemiological studies generally show a relationship between suicide or suicidal behaviors and socio-economic disadvantage, including limited educational achievement, homelessness, unemployment, economic dependence and contact with the police or justice system. War is traditionally believed to be associated with a fall in suicide rates, however this has been questioned in recent studies, showing a more complex picture than previously conceived.
Unfortunately, it doesn't mention the degree to which the rates are affected by these factors.
The same article also considers gender:
In the United States, males are four times more likely to die by suicide than females, although more women than men report suicide attempts. Male suicide rates are higher than females in all age groups (the ratio varies from 3:1 to 10:1). In other western countries, males are also much more likely to die by suicide than females (usually by a factor of 34:1). It was the 8th leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading cause of death for females. Excess male mortality from suicide is also evident from data from non-Western countries.
So, at the least, it would be handy to know the mix of male workers and female workers in the population at Foxconn, and any comparison with competitors would have to be adjusted for different mixes.
Likewise, race affects suicide rates, with asian rates significantly lower, but this is all within the USA so it's not clear whether this applies to people in China:
In 2003, in the United States, whites were nearly 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves than were blacks or Hispanics. There is a marked divergence by age as seen in the chart below. In the eastern portion of the world (primarily in Asian or Pacific-Island countries) the numbers of reported suicides is growing every year. Of all ethnic groups in the United States, Native Americans, Multiracial Americans, and Filipino Americans have the highest risk of suicide.
This does hint at some of the challenges when comparing suicide rates.
Originally Posted by SolipsismX
Maybe that's the wrong to look at it but I would think that any single company should be lower. The one thing that is clear is its size brings a lot more focus that would otherwise not happen. I think Apple's mindshare and affiliation also affects this but to a lesser degree.
My gut feeling aligns with your comment--I suspect that the norm for a well run company should be lower than the country-wide rate. However, that's just a gut feel--a quick look on my part didn't turn up any relevant statistics.
This is an interesting discussion we've had. It's too bad that the newspaper coverage didn't consider any of this--they could have done a much better job of reporting than actually took place.