Hundreds of Amazon Employees Used an Anonymous App to Vent About How a Recent Suicide Attempt was Handled
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An Amazon employee jumped off the company's headquarters two weeks ago, in what was reported to be a suicide attempt.
Although that person survived the fall, it left many Amazon employees shellshocked and frustrated, according to chatter on an anonymous-chat app called Blind.
Blind is a DCM Ventures-backed app that lets people talk about their companies anonymously. Think Glassdoor meets Secret, except that it's only open to people with working company emails.
Over 200 people posted their thoughts on the suicide attempt and how Amazon handled the incident, based on screenshots shared with Business Insider by an Amazon employee. Here are some of the topics discussed in the app:
1. No company-wide email
Most employees seemed upset by the fact that Amazon didn't send out a company-wide email to address the issue:
"I blame Amazon/Amazon leadership for trying to sweep this under the rug and pretending like nothing happened. Regardless of who was at fault, an employee, a co-worker of ours attempted suicide at work! Even the most perfunctory company-wide email acknowledging the incident and reminding employees about EAP and other resources would make a huge difference. It is so tone-deaf (and maybe typical/expected) to ignore this."
"One of us tried to kill themselves over work, and it seemed like beyond Blind, nobody cared. I didn't see people talking about it, I didn't see any mail from Jeff or my org VP... Life looked normal and mundane. This seems we have normalized this. We shouldn't."
2. Blaming the "PIP"
Amazon, like many companies, has a system called "Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)," in which underperforming employees get placed to, and could potentially lead to termination. The suicide survivor is reported to have been placed in PIP, and many employees blamed it for creating a stressful work environment.
"Yes, the first 2 years at this company, I have cried, worked all nighters and have had health issues because I was scared that I will be put in PIP or get a NI rating."
"PIP has become a curse, I spent sleepless nights and went into depression for a while and then took charge to overcome it. The stress passes to yourself and the family. I pray someday there is an end to it."
"PIP seems to be used as a rage by some managers. Sad to see how intelligence is being wasted by some abusive managers misusing the processes."
3. Calling for a union
Someone asked if Amazon had a union, and if not, whether it's time to start one. But most people didn't seem too excited about it:
"Worked in an FC environment for sometime, Amazon is completely against unionizing even for exempt employees. One could be fired if they appeared to be tending towards fighting for unionization. I can't say it's good or bad; wrong, right but know it's company policy."
"I spent a while looking into making a union for software engineers. I even bought a domain name related to it. You can't really do it. Unions legally cannot exist for exempt employees."
4. Criticizing Bezos
Some people pointed fingers at CEO Jeff Bezos for creating such a competitive culture:
"Realistically, Jeff Bezos needs to wake up. As he stated in the company-wide email in response to the NYT article, this may not be the Amazon that he knows, but it IS the Amazon that he has. It's his culture. This type of change must come from the top down."
"Hello? Jeff? Where are you? You have an opportunity here to actually make a difference. I'm not referring to your ridiculous space quest, I'm talking about the people who make up Amazon -- your baby -- remember us?"
"How can these managers (esp. jeff bezos) sleep at night by pushing people so hard and causing horrible effects on good people?"
5. Offering help
The prevailing thought seems to be it's not "worth it" to kill yourself over your job. Many offered help to each other:
"Definitely willing to help in any way I can. Seems there are so many suffering."
"Golden rule of life: protect yourself all the time. Pls reach out, I can help. Life is larger than job, money, project, manager, team and even friends and family if they are putting you in any such situations!"
"If you are someone in similar situation and need help, reach out to me I can help you as much as I can. I will hear you with open mind, do the best I can do for you. There may be many members of the group willing to help, just reach out. Please don't hurt yourself."
6. "Never want to work at Amazon"
A mini-poll of 241 Blind users from the general forum (which includes employees of other companies that use the app) showed that 41 percent would "never want to work at Amazon even if it pays $100,000 more than top offer," while 12 percent said they work at Amazon and "never want to work there."
7) It's not Amazon's fault
There were a number of people who cautioned against making this an Amazon-specific problem. This person isn't the first disgruntled employee and likely won't be the last:
"Please don't put this on Amazon or his manager. We don't know this person or their experience. Maybe they've never failed before and this is the first time and they aren't equipped to deal with it. Maybe they moved here for Amazon and it's been a difficult transition. Maybe they are lonely, depressed, overwhelmed. This truly could happen at any company at any time if the circumstances all come together like they did."
"Do we have to give rosy feedback all the time just not to potentially 'push people on a brink of suicide?' My parents were quite harsh with me when I f---ked up, yet I survived somehow and not killed myself. Why this society and these millennials believe they are entitled only to good things, positive experience and rosy road ahead?"
Amazon did not return a request for comment.
If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.