Disgruntled Amazon warehouse employees are being driven to the point of suicide.
Following reports of workers being forced to pee in bottles and managers encouraging employees to lie about workplace injuries, it's no surprise that over a five-year period there have been nearly 200 calls summoning emergency workers to Amazon warehouses for "suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts and other mental-health episodes," reports the Daily Beast's Max Zahn and Sharif Paget - who spoke to current and former employees.
The reports came from 46 warehouses in 17 states—roughly a quarter of the sorting and fulfillment centers that comprise the company’s U.S. network. Jurisdictions for other Amazon warehouses either did not have any suicide reports or declined requests for similar logs. -Daily Beast
"That place screwed me up so much it put me into a depression where I was actually on a 72-hour hold in a psych ward." —Nick Veasley, 41, who started working at Amazon in December 2016 and was initially thrilled to land the $14.50-an-hour job https://t.co/2o8FaiGUOQ— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 11, 2019
A few more examples from The Beast:
Operator: Lebanon Police and Fire. Where’s your emergency?
Caller: Hi, I’m at 500 Duke Drive in Lebanon, so it’s the Amazon building. I’ve got an associate threatening suicide, she has very specific plans and has shown scratches more than anything on her arms but she’s trying to leave the building. She needs medical help, we can’t keep her here.
Operator: Police dispatch
Caller: Yes, hi, I wanted to see if we could get an officer out to the Amazon facility. I have an associate who had written a suicide letter to her children that was discovered on her today.
Caller: Hey this is Chris, loss prevention Amazon. How you doing?
Operator: Good how are you?
Caller: Not too bad, I need EMS to start our way please. I have a suicidal employee in one of our offices, he attempted to cut himself three or four times tonight. And he is willing to go with EMS.
Operator: OK, what did he attempt to cut himself with?
Caller: One of our safety box cutters.
"It’s this isolating colony of hell where people having breakdowns is a regular occurrence," said former employee Jace Crouch, who worked in a Lakeland, FL warehouse and had an emotional crisis on the job. Crouch added that it's "mentally taxing to do the same task super fast for 10-hour shifts, four or five days a week."
Some employees told The Daily Beast that they struggled with mental health issues before they began working for Amazon. But they believed the exacting work environment made them worse. And in some cases, after they were put on leave, they said they struggled to obtain promised compensation, received counseling they found insufficient or unaffordable, or were even fired. -Daily Beast
Amazon responded to The Beast, claiming that it values the health of its employees, and that the number of 9-11 calls is an "overgeneralization" that "doesn’t take into account the total of our associate population, hours worked, or our growing network."
"The physical and mental well-being of our associates is our top priority, and we are proud of both our efforts and overall success in this area," reads Amazon's statement.
"We provide comprehensive medical care starting on day one so employees have access to the care when they need it most, 24-hour a day free and confidential counseling services, and various leave and medical accommodation options covering both mental and physical health concerns."
Business Insider, meanwhile, ran a report by investigative journalist James Bloodworth, who said of a UK Amazon warehouse: "The atmosphere is what I imagine a prison feels like. You felt like you were walking on eggshells."
Business Insider also previously interviewed 30 current and former Amazon employees about what it's like to work at the company during the holiday rush. One employee called the company's peak season "brutal," while others described working long shifts that left them in physical pain. -Business Insider.
"That place screwed me up so much it put me into a depression where I was actually on a 72-hour hold in a psych ward," said Nick Veasley, a 41-year-old who was driven crazy after spending nights counting items in Amazon bins and matching them against a computer screen tally.
he had to count fast—hundreds of pieces an hour—or a manager tracking his progress in real time would prod him to hurry up. He only occasionally talked to coworkers, knowing a supervisor could track the impromptu break, and the warehouse was nearly silent, aside from the shuffling feet of coworkers and the sliding of bins.
The work was at once stressful and boring, so Veasley’s mind wandered: to the water and electric bills he couldn’t pay, the rent checks he owed, to the fiancée and daughter who depended on him. On Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, his thoughts took a dark turn: Killing himself might be a way out, from his problems and what he saw as the relentless pressure of his job. -Daily Beast
In February 2017, Veasley went on medical leave for surgery after his ankle began to hurt from days standing on his feet. He fell behind on his bills - shortly after which he began to have suicidal thoughts.
"I had so much on my mind that the quietness of standing in one spot and doing my job, would just let my mind run. "The quota, the boringness, everything," Veasley bemoaned. "Do that, do this, do this," he said. "Crack the whip, crack the whip, crack the whip."
Read the rest of the Beast's report here.