All posts by Ken Cole

What’s Causing the High Suicide Rate at France Telecom? – Yahoo! Voices –

Within the last eighteen months there have been twenty-three suicides among the employees of France Telecom, Europe’s third largest telecommunications company, the latest occurring on September 11th by a 32-year-old woman who jumped from her office window in Paris.

There is now an investigation under way, and just one day before the latest suicide France telecom had said that it was postponing the company’s reorganization until October the 31st and they were going to increase medical staff by 10 percent.

Because of the problem of suicide in the company, the Chief Executive Officer of France Telecom, Didier Lombard met with the French Labor Minister, Xavier Darcos. Darcos asked the staff of France Telecom to begin having talks with staff representatives to learn to detect signs of distress and suicide.

The reorganization is the cause many contribute to the suicides. Because of the notes that people left behind and the places in which they chose to commit their suicide, it is apparent that unhappiness and stress in the workplace did play a role.

But I ask, musn’t this just be a trigger for an already existing problem? Or can a job really push an otherwise happy and normal person to ending his or her own life?

I spoke with some people I know in France, one who works for France Telecom and another who does not. The one who does work there told me, when I asked about it, that indeed the environment at France Telecom had become very strange. The other reported that he heard that the reason people were having such a hard time is because the majority of the employees there were of civil servant status — meaning that France Telecom could not fire them, or would at least have a very difficult time doing so. Therefore, in order to try to convince them to leave on their own account the company would do things like make them sit in strange places in the office, like small corner cubicles and give them dreadful jobs that they’d find unpleasant.

Personally, I think I would leave such a post before I became suicidal but I understand what might keep a person at such a job, as the salary is surely regulated and perhaps there is a retirement benefit to look forward to, or at the least job security. This situation reminds me of the situation here in the States some years ago with postal workers, which spurred the popular phrase “going postal,” which means that someone becomes insane and hurts others. Also, a person’s job becomes part of their identity and often that’s hard to let go.

On a more positive note, out of France Telecom’s 100,000 plus employees, those suicides represent something close to the national average for suicides, which is 17.6 per 100,000.


France Telecom Employee Suicides Prompt Action

By Gregory Viscusi and Matthew Campbell

Sept 15, Bloomberg

READ: What’s the cause of french suicide?

via What’s Causing the High Suicide Rate at France Telecom? – Yahoo! Voices –

Suicide in France: Some Hypotheses

The relatively high suicide rate in France is investigated and a number of influences are hypothesized as causative. These include, on a societal and demographic level, a history of high immigration, low emigration, a high proportion of old people, high urbanization, extraordinarily high alcoholism, and the extreme gap in income between upper and lower classes. The rigid bureaucracy of the state can leave the individual feeling infuriated and defeated. The legal system produces many injustices, such as long imprisonment without charges. The Church is liberal and supplies little prophylaxis against suicide. Overall, social integration must be judged to be low. Culturally, French values include an underlying pessimism, no strong fear of death, strong pressures to behave correctly and much malice toward neighbors. The modal personality structure contains defensive, constricted elements producing a vulnerable pseudo-autonomy. French child-rearing practices are effective in producing such personalities.

Read: Suicide in France


1,243 Fewer Heart Disease Deaths; Still Leading Preventable Cause of Death AIDS Deaths Have Decreased 80% Since Peak in 1994; Still 3rd Leading Cause of Death for NY’ers Under 65

NEW YORK CITY – January 5, 2006 – There were 57,466 deaths in New York City in 2004, a reduction of 1,747 deaths – including 1,243 fewer heart disease deaths – from 2003. New York City ‘s death rate reached a historic low of 7.2 per 1,000 people in 2004. Today the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) released its 2004

New Yorkers Living Longer: 2004 Death Rate Lowest

TV Helicopter Crashes on Brooklyn Rooftop – New York Times

By SABRINA TAVERNISE and ANDY NEWMAN; Michael Brick, Thomas J. Lueck and Jess Wisloski contributed reporting for this article
Published: May 05, 2004

A television news helicopter covering a triple shooting in Brooklyn spun out of control and crashed onto the roof of a Flatbush apartment building last night, snapping in two but sparing the three people on board any serious injuries.

The WNBC-TV helicopter, Chopper 4, hit the roof of a four-story brick apartment building at 2502 Cortelyou Road about 6:30 p.m., and then plunged onto the roof of a two-story building, the authorities said.

The helicopter landed in two pieces on the roof of the smaller building, 2514 Cortelyou Road near East 25th Street.

”I cannot believe that three people walked away from that,” a neighbor, Dwayne Simpkins, said.

The people on board, a reporter, Andrew Torres, and two pilots, Russ Mowry and Hassan Taan-Marin, were taken to area hospitals. None of their injuries were life-threatening, the police said.

”We’ve spoken to all three men and they seem to be O.K.,” said Liz Fischer, a spokeswoman for WNBC. ”We’re just thankful that they’re safe.”


“Chopper 4 is going down.”: Gothamist
News helicopter crashes onto NYC rooftop |
NYC’s News Chopper 4 crashes on Brooklyn Rooftop
TV Helicopter Crashes on Brooklyn Rooftop – New York Times