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Three Foxconn employees commit suicide within the space of a month

Suicide continues to plague Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant best known for making Apple products.

At least two Foxconn workers, and one prospective employee, have fallen to their deaths in Zhengzhou, China over the last 20 days, according to various reports. The most recent incident occurred on 14 May, when a 30-year-old male from Henan, who had been working at Foxconn since the end of April, jumped off the roof of a building, China Labor Watch reported on Friday.

Before that, a 23-year-old female worker reportedly leapt off the twelfth floor of an apartment building on 27 April, China Labor Watch said. Just days earlier on 24 April, a 24-year-old male worker jumped off the roof of a dormitory building.

Foxconn's parent company Hon Hai told The Wall Street Journal that the employee deaths on 27 April and 14 May occurred outside of the company's property and that there wasn't any reason to believe they were work-related. The technology giant said that the 24-year-old man who died on 24 April was not a Foxconn employee, but had applied for a job with the company.

According to a separate report from PCWorld, another worker from Foxconn's Chongqing, China facility was found dead on 11 May after jumping from a building. Police are investigating the incident.

At this point, the reasons for the suicides are unclear.

"Some estimate them to be related to the new 'silence mode' policy at Zhengzhou in which workers are purportedly threatened with termination if they talk on the job," China Labor Watch wrote. "One report said that the most recent suicide might have been associated with relationship problems."

A Foxconn spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suicides come amidst a new audit report from the Fair Labor Association showing "continued improvement" in working conditions at Foxconn factories. According to the report, Foxconn has made progress to limit working hours to 60 hours per week, and worker participation in union committees has increased. FLA started auditing Foxconn facilities last year at the behest of Apple amidst reports of unsafe working conditions.

Unfortunately, suicide at Foxconn is not a new phenomenon. At least two dozen Foxconn workers in Shenzen and Chengdu have taken their own lives since early 2010. Foxconn has forced employees to sign a pledge promising that they won't commit suicide and installed nets outside factory dormitories to deter potential jumpers.