Foxconn has been experiencing a wave of suicides, with a total of eight employees taking their lives since the beginning of the year. A ninth incident, which took place yesterday, and saw a man with several knife wounds fall from a seventh-floor window of one of Foxconn’s dormitories, has not been confirmed as a suicide.
With so many people working for Foxconn (roughly 400,000 work at the Longhua plant alone), some have tried to explain away the suicides as statistically normal. However, the Telegraph newspaper cites Foxconn as saying it has prevented a further 30 suicide attempts in the last three weeks alone.
Though a weapon was found at the scene of the most recent incident, it seems many of the suicide victims have jumped from dormitories, leading to suspicions as to how the 21-year-old man died. Foxconn is said to be desperate to stop the suicide cluster from continuing and according to a DigiTimes report dated last week, Chinese media says chairman of the company Terry Guo has sought the aid of an exorcist to try and put an end to the tragedies.
While unusual, suicide clusters, when the notion of suicide spreads throughout a group of people, are not unheard of. In 2007/2008 there was a cluster of suicides in a town in Wales, which saw nearly 20 people ranging from the age of 15 to 26 commit suicide. Most of them hung themselves and all of them had a connection to at least one of the others. At the time, media speculated as to whether or not social networking sites had played a role in the cluster. Many wondered if memorial pages set up on Bebo and Facebook had romanticized the idea of suicide and led others to follow in the footsteps of the first victim, 18-year-old Dale Crole.