And You Thought Your Job Was Stressful: France Telecom Employees Keep Committing Suicide

from the yikes dept

People commit suicide. It happens. But, when a company has had 24 employees commit suicide in 18 months, with many blaming stress from the company as a reason, it makes you pay attention. Apparently, that’s the situation at France Telecom, where the 24th suicide in the last 18 months took place earlier this week. The company says that it’s going to look into how it handles human resources, which seems like a decent idea at this point. In the meantime, if you’re prone to not dealing well with stress, perhaps cross France Telecom off your list of desired employers.

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Companies: france telecom

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Comments on “And You Thought Your Job Was Stressful: France Telecom Employees Keep Committing Suicide”

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Anonymous Coward says:

As long as you can keep your head you should be able to advance quickly.

24 cases then action??? At a place around here there where two with-in few months and it triggered investigations and government attention. They identified a possible third and appeared to avert it. Some key managers where ‘contributing’ factors and where let go with a severance package.

ethorad says:

doesn't seem that high

To me this reeks of the whole MADD “playing D&D causes you to commit suicide” claims. 100,000 employees, and 24 suicides over 2 years means only 12 per 100k employees per year.

Comparing that to various national rates:

France nationally comes in at 17.6 per 100k, so in fact it seems that working for France Telecom is good for you.

The US comes in at 11.1 which is probably within the bounds of error of France Telecom’s 12. To reply to AC above, it does seem to be that bad being French – although you should come to the UK, we’re only 7 per 100k here!

The article also says that “several” committed suicide at work or blamed the firm. That comes to around 30% of the suicides blame France Telecom (assuming that doing it at work is counted as blaming work). Not sure what proportion of suicides overall blame their employer but 30% doesn’t seem that high?

ethorad says:


Ah, I missed the “under” in “24 deaths in under 2 years”. Guess the 18 months quoted in the link above should have clued me in.

France Telecom’s rate then comes in at 16 per 100k per annum, which is still slightly lower than the national average.

Surely they must expect to get in that region of suicides?

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Probably in the expected ballpark, but -

France’s national average for suicide may be in the 17-18 per 100k range annually, but a significant number of those people aren’t the same type of people you’d likely find at France Telecom (for instance, how many of those annual suicides are people under 18, people over 65, serious drug abusers, homeless/unemployed, etcetera).

I’d bet that if you compare the suicide rate at FT with the national average **for those people in the population that are economically/socially/age-wise similar to the FT employees** that you’d find that FT has much more than its fair share of suicides.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Probably in the expected ballpark, but -

I think Ethorad pretty effectively smashed this article apart. I wish more people like him (her?) had even a basic understanding of statistics. This is the one subject that isn’t gone into enough depth in grade school.

In any case, the ball is in you court to prove “significant number of those people aren’t the same type of people you’d likely find at France Telecom”.

Scott Gardner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Probably in the expected ballpark, but -

I generally agree with Ethorad’s post, but I had a problem with his statement that “Surely they must expect to get in that region of suicides?”

Further, my problem with his post comes from the fact that I *do* have an understanding of statistics, rather than from a lack of understanding.

You can’t call 16 suicides per 100k per year “normal” or “expected” just because that figure is close to the national average, unless you can also show that your smaller population is representative of the larger population as a whole.

As another example, let’s say that the annual death rate from cardio-vascular disease is 300 per 100k. That may be “expected”, but if you were to see that kind of death rate from cardio-vascular disease at a large college, that would certainly not be “normal” or “expected”, since the population of the college is markedly younger than the overall population.

If Ethorad is just going to compare per capita suicide rate at FT with that of the general population in France and judge the number of suicides at FT to be “expected”, then the burden of proof is on him to show that the population of FT is at least reasonably similar to the overall population of France.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Probably in the expected ballpark, but -

Well right off the bat, here are two easy ones:

1) The rate of suicide among unemployed people is two to four times higher than among employed people.

2) The age group with the highest suicide rate is those people from ages 75-84, and the rate for those 85 & up is much higher than the rest of the population as well.

Obviously, anyone working at FT isn’t unemployed, and I suspect they don’t employ many people over 75, so there are two high-risk groups right there that are severely underrepresented at FT. Do you still think the suicide rate at FT should mirror the overall rate of the nation?

The suicide rates are also higher for chronic drug abusers (not recreational users) and the mentally ill (two more groups that I’m fairly certain are underrepresented at FT compared to the population as a whole.)

TriZz (profile) says:

WAIT A MINUTE! Why are you all blaming France Telecom? The only thing they’re guilty of is hiring people who are prone to suicide!

We sit on this site daily and boast about how accountability/blame gets passed on to “the man” when people do dumb stuff (ie: kid kills family; blames Halo, rock music, and Google)

I mean…the only HR checking that France Telecom should be doing is looking into a psych exam in their hiring process!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

WAIT A MINUTE! Why are you all blaming France Telecom? The only thing they’re guilty of is hiring people who are prone to suicide!

Do you have some reliable source of information that indicates that the people FT hires are exceptionally “prone to suicide” before FT hires them or are you just making crap up?

cathy says:

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to kill the management group. You know organize, think of a good plan and kill them. If the management group is deliberately trying to get rid of its workers and they have a union, why didn’t the union stand up for them. Suicide is selfish and stupid.
I would rather be pennyless and happy than working for some Hitler who only wants me dead. Anyway, what about the people you leave behind. Maybe the families of these suicides should take contracts out on the management and destroy the company itself. Just an idea.

L K Tucker (user link) says:

France Telecom suicides

i have written every French agency I could find to explain what is happening to cause these suicides, the suicides at La Poste, and Renault. The same suicides are happening at Foxconn in China and Colleges in the United States.

Pictures and video taken by TV news crews and posted on line show the problem is Subliminal Distraction exposure. Discovered when it caused mental breaks for office workers forty years ago the office cubicle was designed to block peripheral vision for a concentrating worker to stop it by 1968.

The problem is a normal feature in our physiologic of sight and the deaths are preventable with no cost precautions.

Anyone with a computer at home or a child in school-college should have the information at VisionAndPsychosis_Net.

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