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Suicide spate spotlight on smartphones

Pressure of work at France Telecom may have been to blame

The increasing intrusion through technology of work into our personal time is coming under fire after executives at France Telecom moved to counter a spate of suicides at the firm.

CFO Gervais Pellissier spoke to Reuters about the 22 suicides at France Telecom in the recent past, singling out computers and smartphones as areas that need to be looked at.

Always connected

Speaking, presumably, about phones like the BlackBerry, he said: "Today for people working in business, whatever the level, whether they are CEO or even first- or second-rank level employees, they are always connected.

Although Pellissier did not directly blame the modern barrage of work-related emails for the deaths, he did acknowledge the growth of their reach:

"When you were an average employee in a big corporation 15 years ago, you had no mobile phone or no PC at home. When you were back home, work was out."

Counselling available

France Telecom also has the added difficulty of turning itself from a public utility into a private business, leading its CEO to increase observation of staff behaviour and offer counselling as necessary.