If you've watched the sitcom M*A*S*H, you are familiar with the theme song. It talks about failure, of desperation and a fatalist view of life. The chorus sings “...that suicide is painless; it brings on many changes; and I can take or leave it if I please.”
The singer isn’t being glib. The rest of the lyrics offer insight into why people commit suicide. The darkness that envelopes them and becomes all- consuming. The feeling that suicide will indeed be painless because it will end the unbearable suffering currently endured.
In the news right now is a Chinese factory that has become a city in itself. Three hundred thousand people live and work on the campus and most come from poor rural areas where there is little chance of finding work. This campus, housing all 300,000 workers, includes the mega factories they work in, restaurants, shops, hospitals and a fire station – is jam-packed into one square mile. Looking at pictures of this campus is suffocating. Building after building squashed together, a stony jungle with a moving mass of humanity crawling through the stone façade. It’s hard to see where the factories end and the homes (huge dormitories) begin. The word "career" is unknown to these people. They need to work so that they can eat – it’s as simple as that. And within this world, suicide is rampant.
What begins as relief for so many thousands of poor, young workers from rural China turns into a nightmarish existence. With reasonable pay and a guarantee of somewhere to live, it sounds like a good option for those coming from struggling farms and small towns and villages. But facing long hours on an assembly line with managers who have been accused of hurling abuse and unfair punishment has taken its toll. With nothing more to do that rise early, work all day and go home to a dorm, these people have been dehumanized. Trudging back and forth in almost robotic formation, the chance of leaving a life of poverty behind has quickly turned into a place for desperate workers to end their lives.
In 2010 so far, ten workers have committed suicide with more attempting it. The factory, called Foxconn, claims to not know why.