Open Access Highly Accessed Correspondence

The foxconn suicides and their media prominence: is the werther effect applicable in china?

Qijin Cheng*, Feng Chen and Paul SF Yip

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:841  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-841

PubMed Commons is an experimental system of commenting on PubMed abstracts, introduced in October 2013. Comments are displayed on the abstract page, but during the initial closed pilot, only registered users can read or post comments. Any researcher who is listed as an author of an article indexed by PubMed is entitled to participate in the pilot. If you would like to participate and need an invitation, please email, giving the PubMed ID of an article on which you are an author. For more information, see the PubMed Commons FAQ.

The bigger picture on Foxconn working conditions and how they may influence worker mental health

andrew watterson   (2012-06-01 13:16)  University of Stirling. Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group

The paper legitimately explores aspects of the Foxconn suicides relating to investigating temporal clustering and the role of the media. There are other aspects of these clusters which may be less familiar to BMC readers, however, that merit equal attention and public health action. These aspects may be one of the major underlying causes of the first suicides and they provide important contextualisation for the reported clusters. They include poor working conditions - hours, holidays and health and safety. A Fair Labor Association Report for Apple on the Chinese Foxconn plants was produced in 2012 after the Cheng paper was published in 2011. It reveals that in some plants , employees worked 60 hour weeks and 7% worked 60-70 hour weeks for several months. Also 7% of the workers in some plants worked without a rest period of 24 hours for seven days. Additionally the FLA found significant failings in health and safety management at the Fox conn plants and no active worker representation ( Civil society bodies such as Good Electronics and SACOM ( have provided further critiques of Foxconn linked to the suicides that merit serious attention by researchers.

Competing interests

No financial or other competing interests


Post a comment