9th Apple Plant Worker Commits Suicide
China suicide cluster baffles manufacturer
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2010 5:38 AM CDT
FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2009 file photo, a man with an umbrella stands near an advertisement for Apple's iPhone which officially launched on mainland China in Beijing, China.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, file)

(Newser) – A 21-year-old man who jumped out a window to his death Saturday marks the ninth suicide of a worker at Foxconn, the Taiwanese-owned manufacturer of iPhones and iPods. The deaths of young employees—combined with the fact that the company says it has prevented some 30 suicides in the past 3 weeks—show the signs of a suicide cluster, and have the company so baffled it has brought in a Buddhist monk to purge the plants of evil spirits.

Critics point to more earthly factors that could be motivating the suicides: The well-educated young migrant workers who staff the factories crack under the demands of 15-hour workdays, 7 days a week, the Telegraph reports. Paid too poorly to be able to afford the products they build, the employees also tend to become socially isolated in vast factories where it is difficult for them to get to know their co-workers.