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Over the past ten years, dozens of suicides have been committed in large enterprises, often at the workplace. Finding a direct link between these suicides and the working conditions or management form of these enterprises is not self-evident. Because of the small number of cases known, a recourse to statistics creates uncertainty and feeds a strategy of doubt. This strategy is one of the classic lines of defense of enterprises suspected to endanger the health or life of their own workers or of the users of their products. Moreover, suicide is too complex of a phenomenon to be explained through a single causal and linear link. Are people who decide to end their lives in the professional environment vulnerable because of prior personal and psychological problems of which others – normal – do not die? The contributions of the psychology of work, field studies conducted by psychologists and psychoanalysts, and the results of a judicial inquiry enable to doubt this. These approaches are complementary and necessary. None of the results obtained by any of them can alone be considered sufficient for establishing an unequivocal causal link between the new working conditions at France Télécom and some of the suicides. However, when taken together, they form a body of convergent indicators that allow to presume the existence of a link.


  • suicide
  • working conditions
  • professional conscience
  • doubt
  • management
  • vindictive
Christian Baudelot
Michel Gollac
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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