Stress case


2012 March 12
Re: Biting into Apple
Colby Cosh claims that Chinese workers at Foxconn, a supplier to Apple Inc., “face conditions that wouldn’t be tolerated in the West” (“Biting into Apple,” Business, Feb. 13). The most damning evidence of this, according to Cosh, is that 14 Foxconn workers committed suicide in 2010. Yet some public institutions in Canada have reported suicide rates up to eight times higher than Foxconn, which has a workforce of approximately 800,000. Given 14 suicides in 2010, the suicide rate per 100,000 at Foxconn is 1.75. Queen’s University has a student population of 21,468; in the 2010-2011 academic year, there were six student deaths, three of which were confirmed suicides, making the suicide rate per 100,000 at Queen’s 13.97.
Critics who point to high stress levels at Foxconn would do well to remember that more than 50 per cent of students at post-secondary institutions in Ontario report extreme anxiety and more than seven per cent say they have seriously contemplated suicide. If suicide is the most damning indicator of an oppressive institutional environment, the data suggests we should be less outraged about the foreign factories where our iPods are made and more concerned about the public universities in which our children study.

Victoria L. Henderson
PhD Candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, Queen’s University
(Link to the article that prompted this letter and a longer blog post on the same topic)


Publication Information:
Henderson, Victoria L. (2012) Stress case. Maclean’s: Canada’s National Magazine. 12 March. 125(9): 8.