Foxconn invites monks in wake of six suicides

10:51, May 13, 2010      

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Another employee of Taiwan-funded Foxconn Technology Group committed suicide this week, bringing the total to six so far this year. In addition, two other workers attempted suicide since Jan 1, but they were not successful.

In response to this growing problem, company officials are planning to invite monks to the company to conduct a religious rite to dispel misfortune.

A 24-year-old woman killed herself by jumping from a rented apartment in the city on Tuesday night, becoming the eighth suicide attempt among the Foxconn employees since January.

This is the sixth time a Foxconn employee committed suicide by jumping out of a building.

The world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics said in a statement on Wednesday that it regrets the suicide of the worker.

The deceased, surnamed Zhu, died at around 7 pm Tuesday. A native of Central China's Henan province, she joined Foxconn in August 2009.

Zhu was on leave when she jumped out of her rented apartment at Shuidouxincun in the Longhua neighborhood. Her mother was visiting Zhu in Shenzhen after traveling from her hometown in Henan.

The police are still investigating the incident and no further details are available.

After the seventh suicide took place on May 6, Foxconn officials invited eminent monks to "release the souls from purgatory".

Liu Kun, director of the press office with the company, told China Daily, "The victims' families asked us to bless the dead and release their souls from suffering, and we will do everything we can to comfort them and prevent such accidents in the future."

Liu said the company has already established a management center to help employees maintain mental health. High-level officials in the company will give talks to the staff to "help them look on the bright side of the life time to time," Liu said.

Insiders said Terry Gou, president of Foxconn, wants to invite eminent monks from the Wutai mountain to release the six souls from suffering and make a blessing to a peaceful future of the company, Nanfang Metropolis Daily reported on Wednesday.

Company officials just want to release the "nervous emotions" among the employees and follow the traditional customs, Liu said.

Li Jicheng, head of the Shenzhen-based Dexiu Martial Club, told Nanfang Metropolis Daily on Wednesday that Foxconn asked him to help invite 30 eminent monks to the company within the next seven days.

Li said three eminent monks already arrived in Shenzhen on Monday night.

The idea of inviting eminent monks for a blessing has been discussed since April, due to the series of suicides. But officials, afraid of criticism from the public, suspended the plan until the seventh suicide on May 6.

At about 4:30 am on May 6, Lu Xin, a 24-year-old employee, ended his life by jumping off the sixth flour of his dormitory in Hualong district inside the company grounds.

Lu, from Hunan province, joined the company on Aug 1, 2009 and was found to have abnormal behavior and delusions in May.

Zeng Hongling, a friend of Lu's, said that Lu has been in a trance since April 30, saying that he was being chased and someone wanted to murder him. He reported the abnormal behavior to the company.

The company arranged for Zeng to look after Lu. Zeng contacted Lu's family, hoping that they would come to Shenzhen to help and comfort him.

Lu's family bought a train ticket, leaving on May 5 and arriving at about 9 am on May 6, but Lu killed himself earlier that day.

"We did everything we could," Cheng Tianzong, vice-president of the company, told media.

A group of psychologists was invited to Shenzhen by Foxconn to make a consultation after the seventh case.

In an interview with CCTV about the series of Foxconn suicides, Fan Fumin, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Psychology at Tsinghua University, said the suicide rate among Foxconn employees is about 2 to 3 per 100,000, similar to the rate among college students.

Comparatively, the rate is not high, Fan said. According to the World Health Organization, the suicide rates in China are 13.0 per 100,000 males and 14.8 per 100,000 females. (Figures are from 1999, the most recent year available.)

However, Fan also said that intervention should have occured earlier as the suicides took place intensively since March and the behavior seems to have been copied.

In April 2010, one male and two female employees committed suicide by jumping out of tall buildings. They were all aged 18 to 24.

In March, two employees - one male and one female - jumped from dormitories, but the female did not die.

The first suicide happened on Jan 23 when Ma Xiangqian, a 19-year-old employee, ended his life.

Foxconn is the foremost provider of joint-design, joint-development, manufacturing, assembly and after-sales services to global computer, communications and consumer electronics companies.

In its Longhua manufacturing base in Shenzhen, Foxconn employs more than 300,000 workers.

Xinhua and Chen Hong contributed to the story.

Source: China Daily(By Wang Qian)


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