Hmmm. From the Economist:
"The French suicide rate is 14.6 per 100,000 people, according to the OECD. Men are particularly prone: 22.8, against 7.5 for women. This puts the suicides over 20 months at France Telecom, which employs just over 100,000 people, in line with the national average. More people take their lives as a share of the population than anywhere in western Europe bar Finland and Belgium. The French suicide rate is over twice that in Britain and 40% higher than in Germany and America.
A recent mental-health survey suggested that two-fifths of French people suffer from serious depression at some point in their lives. The French swallow more anti-depressants per head than the Germans or British. One in ten French people claims anti-depressant medication on their public health-insurance.
How to explain this existential angst? France offers its citizens unusual comforts, with first-rate health care, long holidays and sit-down lunches, protected jobs and generous welfare. But the veneer of security masks much uncertainty. Job-protection rules discourage permanent job creation, so the young drift on temporary contracts. Unable to shed staff, firms give employees meaningless jobs instead, to try to nudge them out. And big French firms, many one-time branches of the civil service, have been opened up to market competition, bringing new pressures to perform in the office or factory floor. According to a survey last month by TNS Sofres, a polling agency, the French have less confidence in their employers (32%) than do either Germans (47%) or Americans (54%).
In a country that idealises the good life, the reality of drudgery and waiting for the monthly pay check, or of solitude in retirement, may be harder to accept."