Suicide VoicesLabour Trauma in France

Suicide VoicesLabour Trauma in France

Sarah Waters

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9781789622232

Publisher: Liverpool University Press


This book examines the phenomenon of work suicides in France and asks why, in the present historical juncture, conditions of work can push individuals to take their own lives. During the 2000s, France experienced what commentators have described as a ‘suicide epidemic’, whereby increasing numbers of workers in the face of extreme pressures of work, chose to take their own lives. This book analyses a corpus of testimonial material linked to 66 suicide cases across three large French companies during the period from 2005 to 2015. A key aim is to consider what the extreme and subjective experiences of self-killing narrated in suicide letters can tell us about the contemporary economic order and its impact on flesh and blood experiences of work. What do rising work suicides tell us about conditions of human labour in the 21st century? Does neoliberal economics condition a desire for suicide? How do suicidal individuals describe the causes and motivations of their self-killing? Combining critical perspectives from sociology, history, testimony studies, economics, cultural studies and public health, the book raises critical questions about the human costs of the shift to a finance-driven neoliberal order and its everyday effects within the localised spaces of the French workplace.