Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It IS Just a Job

Last month I saw the French film Polisse.  It is about police detectives who handle crimes against children, along the lines of Law and Order.  At the end of the film, one of the detectives walked over to the window during a staff meeting and jumped, killing herself.  It, of course, was an eerie end to the film.  I remember being taken back by it, but assumed it was for shock value more than a commentary on society. 

Then last week, I read an article about how CEOs in France are being investigated for employee suicide.  When I first saw the headline (30 suicides)I thought the article was going to be about the Foxconn scandal in China where employees were killing themselves due to poor working conditions.  When I read further, I was shocked that a company in France had over 30 suicides between 2009 and 2010.  It seems as if restructuring, performance demands, and poor treatment when those demands were not met led to the employees’ demise.  One employee stabbed himself during a staff meeting while another threw herself out her office window.  Can you even imagine?  A couple of thoughts went through my mind while reading this horrible story.  First, no one thought to investigate this before 2012?  And how did the number get to be over 30 without some kind of investigation.  That is a lot of people, especially when many referenced their job being the reason they took their lives.  What took so long?

But then I also had another thought…why are people killing themselves over their jobs?  I know that the job market is ROUGH right now and that the thought of staying in a job you hate because you can’t get another one is horrible, but still, it’s just a job.  When I think about the last year or so in mine…it was bad.  We were treated like crap and spent the first part of last year in tears and the second part pissed off, but never once did the thought of killing myself cross my mind (although the thought of kicking the person who was making us miserable in the shins did pop into my mind from time to time).

It’s beyond my frame of understanding that one company would have that terrible statistic.  And also that it wouldn’t just occur to them to investigate why BEFORE it got to that number. 

I know, kind of a downer of a post, but I’m sitting up exhausted with a sick puppy who I can’t get into the vet until tomorrow morning.  So I’m feeling a little bit like a downer.

15 comments:

  1. Yeah, no. In France there is a tradition of the job for life, long gone in the English speaking economies. This lends itself to a family environment being generated. As with abuse, the family structure is where it happens mostly.
    Further, the French are big on the mind games. Real big. Think a school of 14 year old girls and you'll be close.
    Yes, this can happen elsewhere but the same conditions need to apply. And in general the only place that still has anything like those conditions is the civil service. You are very lucky that you are part of a profession. Lord help you if you hadn't a union.

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    1. That's so interesting, I mean not in a good way, but as I was reading the articles I thought you don't get distraught and desperate over your job...that happens in your personal life. Our entertainment portrays the French as being aloof. That's always been the picture in my head, and I would never have thought it the way you've described. Well, maybe the mind games, but not the ties like that to their job.

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    2. It's far from all bad. You have someone working in a restaurant having the profession of Waiter not thought of as being a failure. And like with a family, when it's good it is very good indeed. If bad there is no place on earth worse.

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    3. What you write makes sense, but still it's such an extreme way of handling, or not handling really, the stress isn't it.

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    4. Yes, but one can be the frog being slowly boiled and end up in that situation without realising it. There are more psycho-control freaks out there that get their jollies from messing with the kindness of people than you might think.

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  2. I tell Fred to stop his bitching and complaining and just man-up! This isn't France! This is America and we work our asses off here!
    Don't worry, he says something equally as awful to me right back. It's our thing.
    But in a way, I think that Americans are used to killing(not literally) ourselves with our jobs. This is all new to the French. Bon Chance Mes Amis! m.

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    1. It is strange that while the undue stress blamed for the suicides comes from a work week that can't exceed 35 hours. Our work culture and expectations seem to be very different than theirs - their work stressors seem to be what we would consider normal.
      I had a brief lapse as I forgot that Fred is from France. Good thing he works from home...he can just go take a nap if things get too tough. :)

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  3. How horrible. I am sad that it took them so long to investigate. I pray I will never feel that passionately about my job!

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    1. I'd consider myself fairly passionate about my job, but not to that point for sure.

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  4. I got to the point where my last job made me physically ill. I have to freelance now b/c there's nothing else in the industry here--SA doesn't have much for art or writing.

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    1. Being in a job like that takes a toll on your mental and physical health doesn't it. I would make a guess that it's a common occurance too, but at what point does it lead to ending one's life? I hope that in the investigations they not only look at who is to blame, but what should be done to prevent it from happening in the first place.

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  5. It seems appalling that they are only getting around to investigating it now.

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  6. Hope the pup is beter!
    No job is worth dying over...sad sad situation!

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    1. She's ok. Somehow she came down with bordetella even though she's had the vaccination. The other night she just wouldn't stop coughing and was basically spitting up ALL over my house. The vet said it has to run its course and she's already coughing less. Thanks.

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