Suicide Voices

BookSuicide Voices

Suicide Voices

Labour Trauma in France

Studies in Modern and Contemporary France, 8


September 1st, 2020



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This book examines the phenomenon of work suicides in France and asks why, at 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 kill themselves. The book analyses a corpus of testimonial material linked to 66 suicide cases across three large French companies during the period from 2005 to 2015. It aims to consider what the extreme and subjective act of self-killing, narrated in suicide letters, can tell us about the contemporary economic order and its impact on flesh and blood bodies. What do rising work-related suicides reveal about conditions of human labour in the twenty-first century? Does neoliberal economics condition a desire for suicide? How do suicidal individuals describe the causes and motivations of their act? 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 French workplace.


'This book offers us an exhaustive and penetrating analysis of the questions posed by workplace suicide. Sarah Waters makes it an essential key to understanding not only the transformations of the French society but of any society.'
Christophe Dejours, Directeur de l'Institut de Psychodynamique de Travail

Author Information

Sarah Waters is a Professor of French Studies at the University of Leeds.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. Capitalism, Work and Suicide35
2. Suicide as Testimony81
3. Going Postal117
4. Orange on the Inside149
5. Fast Cars and Vital Exhaustion181