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What is driving employees to go suicidal?

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Employees committing suicide once again made new headlines after the deaths of two Foxconn workers earlier this month.

A 31-year-old man took his own life by jumping off the top floor of one of Foxconn’s production buildings in Zhengzhou, after having worked there for a month.

In the same week, a Foxconn employee was killed by a train on her way to the same factory. The pedestrian underpass had been flooded by heavy rain, leading her to climb over a fence to cross the railway tracks in order to get to work.

It’s not the first time Foxconn makes the news due to the deaths of one or more of their employees. In 2010, 14 workers at Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory committed suicide, with another 4 attempting to do so.

One recent study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry found that the global recession that began in 2007 could be linked with more than 10,000 suicides across North America and Europe.  Job loss, debt and foreclosure increase risks of suicidal thinking.

“Historically, suicide rates do rise during economic downturns. The entire population is still experiencing the downstream effects of economic recession,” said Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention told The Atlantic.

Another study published in the American Journal of Preventative Health found  workplace suicides in the US decreased between 2003 and 2007, and sharply increased from 2007 to 2010 in line with the findings on how economic downturn has increased the chance of employees to take their lives.

“People who choose workplace suicide may be doing this to protect family and loved ones from finding them after the fact,” said Hope Teisman, lead author of the study.

Another key finding is people in occupations with regular access to lethal means are at a higher risk of suicide. “This access may not be unique to the workplace, however, as workers may be able to take certain weapons home,” explained Teisman.

With employees spending a significant amount of their lives at work, their experiences can have a profound impact on their well being.

Aside from providing a good work environment, employers can ensure they have preventive programmes in place that promote both mental and physical health, as well as offer help should an employee be dealing with depression.

ALSO READ: Employee found dead at Apple headquarters

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)

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