In a scene one would expect in a Chinese Foxconn factory but certainly not Seattle, Bloomberg reports that in what the police have described as a suicide attempt, an Amazon employee - one of 20,000 working at the location - was injured when he leaped off a building at the company’s Seattle headquarters. The suicide was unsuccessful and the man survived the fall from Amazon’s 12-story Apollo building at about 8:45 a.m. local time Monday and was taken to a Seattle hospital, police said.
The man, who wasn’t identified by authorities, sent an e-mail visible to hundreds of co-workers, including Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, before the incident occurred, according to a person familiar with the matter. In the e-mail, the man expressed criticism of how the company handled his transfer request, and he hinted that he might harm himself, according to the person.
According to Bloomberg, the man had recently put in a request to transfer to a different department, but was placed on an employee improvement plan, a step that can lead to termination if performance isn’t improved.
“Our thoughts are with our colleague as he continues to recover,” Amazon said in a statement. “He’s receiving some of the best care possible and we will be there to support him throughout the recovery process.”
As Bloomberg notes, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2013, with 41,149 people taking their own lives that year, for a rate of 12.6 per 100,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is unclear if there have been any recent, similar attempts at Jeff Bezos' company.
The online retailer has taken steps to soften its image as a difficult employer since a New York Times story last year portrayed the company as a bruising workplace where employees were encouraged to take advantage of one another to get ahead. Amazon disputed the characterization of the company.