Uber Engineer Who Made $170K per Year Commits Suicide Due to Job Stress

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, Apr 27, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    This sounds like a guy who had plenty of other job options, so there had to be some kind of mental illness at play, right? Family members say Mr. Joseph’s job at Uber resulted in “panic attacks, trouble concentrating, and near-constant anxiety,” yet he was “adamant” he could not leave his job.

    Joseph had shot himself. He died in the hospital two days later, a week before he would have turned 34. His father and widow are convinced that the work environment and stress at Uber triggered his suicide. Zecole Thomas has filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking to hold Uber accountable for her husband’s mental decline. “If you put a hard-driving person on unrealistic tasks, it puts them in failure mode,” said the elder Joe Thomas, who said his son described a sort of brainwashing at Uber. “It makes them burn themselves out; like driving a Lamborghini in first gear.”
     
  2. Seventyfive

    Seventyfive [H]ard|Gawd

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    I actually kind of understand what he's going through but not completely. I make about $200k/yr and I don't really like what i do (i'm not suicidally depressed though). Sometimes careers can be like steering a ship. You make a 5° turn early in your life and then 10 years later you're off course from where you intended by thousands of miles. The big problem is once you have a family, you need to keep making that money to pay the mortgage, pay for your kids school, or whatever. Some people call it the "golden handcuffs". You might want to do something else that might make you happy but the paycut makes it 'impossible". Of course it's not really impossible, it's just that it would take a ton of adjustment that most people aren't willing to do. It's easier to just make money and be miserable.
     
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  3. BiH115

    BiH115 Gif Guy

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    Holy shit...what an analogy. Seems like a lot of people go for the younger, fresh startup in order to prove themselves. The added stress must force people to think they need to ride it out to the point where the grass becomes greener. Seems to be a pipe dream though for a lot of people.

    Totally. I'm in a similar boat as you (minus family/pets/etc.), but even though I'd like to try a few other things, it's just easier to focus on doing the same thing while slowly working to get another off the ground. I don't hate what I do, far from it, but the happiness/freedom it gives me in return (allowing me to do what I want outside of work, plus work on my own project that'll hopefully let me be my own boss sometime soon), makes it worthwhile for now.
     
  4. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

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    I can't really relate. Put your happiness in front of money and live accordingly.
    If you really think that money is more important than anything else, you'll probably be dead before you can use it and enjoy it.
     
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  5. MrTryfe

    MrTryfe Limp Gawd

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    I get it...but man, if you're at the point of being suicidal, GET THE HELL OUT. It is absolutely not worth it. I have also had to think long and hard about leaving a particular job, but if it got to the point where my mental health was suffering, I jumped ship ASAP.

    What's the point of worrying about your or your family's future, if you eventually end up with no future at all?
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
  6. Tiburon1186

    Tiburon1186 Gawd

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    If only I was making that kind of money. But it's also likely where I'm living. (Pittsburgh)
     
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  7. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    I feel his pain a bit. I would never commit suicide, especially knowing how much it would hurt the rest of my family and make it hard on the kid/wife.

    But I feel his pain. Coming home stressed all the time.. I also live by the notion of "I can't quit" because I feel as though I must always be employed. That's not to say I can't look for another job though.
     
  8. Tiburon1186

    Tiburon1186 Gawd

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    I've KIND of been in that boat. Never suicidal but to the point where my job was causing me extreme mental stress. I bailed after 1.5 years. Bai!
     
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  9. Bigdady92

    Bigdady92 [H]ardness Supreme

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    So he was making 170k/yr in CA? That's near minimum wage to survive out there.

    I understand burn out, like others making high 6 figures, it's all about balancing life and priorities. What's important to you, what you want to accomplish, and how you take a break from work to enjoy life and all that green you've made.
     
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  10. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    You say that now while you have money. Try living paycheck to paycheck like the rest of this country does.

    Also keep in mind, the main cause of the majority of our huge divorce rate is undoubtedly money related.
     
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  11. BiH115

    BiH115 Gif Guy

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    It could be that he was wanting to stay with the company because he wanted to prove he could do it, that he wasn't a quitter after having attained this higher end job with an extremely well known brand name. I can totally see the stigma "Oh he couldn't handle it at Uber, etc.".

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. morpheus6d9

    morpheus6d9 [H]ard|Gawd

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    It wasn't the job

    1. He got the side girlfriend pregnant
    2. He's gay

    I'm speaking from exp
     
  13. Smashing Young Man

    Smashing Young Man [H]ard|Gawd

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    Millennial-bashing and -generalizing to follow:

    It wouldn't surprise me if we see more of this kind of thing happen with millennials. The entitled generation who have known little in the way of hardship and lack any sense of real-world perspective. They're pampered from birth until they come out of the other side of university, then slapped in the face by the real world. Yes, sometimes your boss doesn't like you for whatever reason (I love how they went right to racism as being a possible reason in this case). Work is often stressful. I don't think what this guy experienced was any more stressful than working on a factory floor with per-piece quotas or working the service desk at Walmart dealing with customers during the holidays. He was described as living a charmed life where everyone thought him handsome and the smartest guy in the room. He was coddled until he wasn't, and cracked in the face of it.
     
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  14. Madoc

    Madoc Gawd

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    I'm not sympathetic towards suicide in general, but the idea that he was stressed while making $170K/yr is just... I make way, way, way less than that. My rent keeps going up much faster than my wages and general cost of living. This is a source of stress for me. Am I suicidal over it? Heck no. If you can't live reasonably well off of $170K, you're doing something wrong. I can only conclude that there were other things in his life which played a part in what this guy did. The causes for things like suicide are seldom as straightforward as they seem.
     
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  15. MrTryfe

    MrTryfe Limp Gawd

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    Its SF, doubt #2 matters as much
     
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  16. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

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    Eh... It's not like i was born with a silver spoon. I just never lived outside of my means. If that means an old car instead of a car payment, a one bedroom apartment instead of a two, finding the best deals and waiting instead of putting everything on credit, not having kids until i was ready to, etc.
    I'm not rich by any means. I just make sure i'm able to save something from every paycheck.

    The people they're talking about here just lost sight of the bigger picture. It's more important to enjoy life instead of living like that. Material things don't make people happy.
     
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  17. MrTryfe

    MrTryfe Limp Gawd

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    I will say that I've seen a lot of "smartest person in the room" guys get absolutely hammered due to their insecurities. Usually they'd just end up leaving. I wouldn't necessarily say it was completely an ego issue. They'd just never know if their work was up to par, and constantly worried about it. Most of it just seemed self-inflicted.

    Thankfully, I've never been the smartest guy in the room at any job, so I haven't had to go through that. It pays being a grunt sometimes.
     
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  18. Cyraxx

    Cyraxx 2[H]4U

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    Oh I totally agree. I live WAAAAAAAAAAAY below my means.

    California is a bit different though, and if the guy lived in or near Bay area, the equivalency of $170k is actually nothing amazing giving the cost of living there. To put that into perspective, if I put LA or San Jose Salary of $170k and convert that my area, that is the equivalent of approx $95k in my area. Definitely not as much as it initially seems. Toss in a non-working wife and a kid and it can get pretty stressful.
     
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  19. Stoly

    Stoly [H]ardness Supreme

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    Sniff sniff... I smell lawsuit.
     
  20. Jaybone909

    Jaybone909 Limp Gawd

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    Well it kinda does if he has a wife and kids.
     
  21. bobzdar

    bobzdar [H]ard|Gawd

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    Working there was his choice. Suicide also his choice.

    I'm usually pretty empathetic, but it's ridiculous to think Uber caused him to kill himself.
     
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  22. Pusher of Buttons

    Pusher of Buttons [H]ard|Gawd

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    Income (to a point) has little to do with your overall job satisfaction and happiness....it's one of the great ironies....but you just adjust to your new spending limit and maintain whatever financial stressors existed before.

    I mean, I do OK for my part of the country. For a college drop out I do quite well by the raw numbers, my salary puts me above the "average" for people with a college degree. But I have a non-working spouse with assloads of medical bills. So I live in a craphole, I have zero money for any leisure activities, and live essentially paycheck to paycheck with tens (hundreds maybe by now?) of thousands of dollars of medical bills hovering over my head.

    But...I'm less stressed than my friend making 200k a year....because he's stuck. He can't demote or he'll lose his very expensive house. He can't job seek, there aren't many jobs that pay that well, certainly not in the area. His only options are displacing his whole family or being stuck at his shitty job forever. I left my previous job and applied one place and got that job. My salary expectations are reasonable based upon my experience, I don't have kids, so I can displace pretty easily.

    Long and short....money isn't everything. When you don't have it it's desperate, but even when you do, it's fleeting. If you can find a job you actually like or at least don't hate, and it pays enough for you to maintain a level of existence you're happy with, than that's really all you need.
     
  23. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Actually I'd call it the stress of loosing a job and therefore your living. That's what really casuses stress. "OMG I can't do what I'm tasked with, what if I Get fired?"

    That's the biggest fear of every working person. It's just the way the system is set up.You depend on your work for your living.
    That's what needs to change to relieve work related stress.
     
  24. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

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    if you're making a 170k/yr and living paycheck to paycheck i do not have any sympathy for you. Come back to me when youre making 15k or less a year and doing the same. Been there, done that.

    Also nobody forced him to stay at that job. Quitting and losing your house/spouse etc > death.
     
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  25. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

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    But it's not like people living in some of the most expensive areas in the world don't understand that just moving to a different state and taking a slightly less paying job can net you tons more spending money.
    I would say the people that can't figure that out probably have a mental disorder and i guess that can be fairly dangerous combined with suicidal tendencies.
     
  26. kju1

    kju1 2[H]4U

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    Or they feel entitled and dont feel like they should have to move and society should just ensure they can live in the area they want to no matter how much they earn...
     
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  27. TorxT3D

    TorxT3D Gawd

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    Probably caught the wife cheating. shes using uber as the fault for more money.
     
  28. steakman1971

    steakman1971 2[H]4U

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    Some jobs are stressful and not worth the money. Hell, I don't exactly love my current job. I get out of bed every day and go in. Some days suck - you come home and feel like its pointless. (Not in a suicidal way for me!)
    I'm doing the right thing - looking for a new job. I've been looking for over a year. I've seen plenty, even interviewed for a few. However, I saw worse opportunities than I currently have or just flat out didn't like the other place.
    I'm also a manager where I work. I just had an employee leave under strange circumstances (his choice). This guy was my friend - not just an employee. I talked to him and even reached out to human resources for advice. I wanted to make sure he wasn't suicidal. I did what I could to help him. I even gave him my number in case he needs to talk (now that he longer works with me). My point here is I would suspect your supervisor can see the stress. I know I can. I can't always fix it, but at least I recognize it and try to do the right thing.
     
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  29. SighTurtle

    SighTurtle [H]ard|Gawd

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    Rest in peace Joseph.
     
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  30. BiH115

    BiH115 Gif Guy

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    Holy fuck, some people here are living under serious delusions. The fact that people with money don't have issues because they "have money", is an unbelievably unaware look into the issue at hand. No one really knows the full story as to why he offed himself, it's all speculation really. Could he have been incredibly stressed? Absofuckinglutely, can't discount that at all. Not everyone has nerves of steel, that can overcome any situation by flicking their magic wand, this guy clearly couldn't. It's situational. We all have our own triggers.

    I get what you're saying, but alluding to the fact that people with money don't have stresses about money is just over generalizing. Do you know people with boatloads of money? I know very many close to me, and there are constant stresses about general things, like one, losing it (market, fuck-ups like over-investing in an idea then getting burned, etc.). Sure, they don't have to stress about about being able to afford rent (or perhaps sometimes, as I've witnessed if they have a house out of their supposed budget, but that's a different story), but the fact that it's difficult to attain the level of finances that they have, makes you even more stressed and aware of how easily it can be lost. I admit I'm generalizing a bit and not going into great depth, but these are the "issues", so to speak.

    As someone who makes right around what this guy made, I can attest to the stress. There are constant factors at play creeping in that force you to be on edge, to make sure you're relevant in the game as it stands. This causes many, many, sleepless nights, being overworked to the point where you can't remember the last time you slept, etc. I face less of that now, but stress is stress is stress. It's the same stress we all feel, no matter where it comes from or how it's formed. We just all handle it differently.

    It's funny how it works, isn't it? Irony is the right word for it. While I don't have a family (I sound like a record player at this point, with how often I'm mentioning (bragging?) this today), I'm accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and while stress comes into play more than I'd like or can control, the end result after busting your balls is freedom, and that outweighs anything really. Once you make it to a certain ladder rung, you don't want to go lower. I know people that have gotten to the top and then went several rungs lower just because that's what they felt comfortable with, and that's great for them.
     
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  31. Pusher of Buttons

    Pusher of Buttons [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yeah, but you're de-stressing on this rig i7 5960x // 2x EVGA Titan X 12GB // 32GB RAM // 2x Samsung Evo 850 512GB SSD // Corsair AX1200i PSU

    I can only afford to take my stress out on an RX480 at 1080p....you don't know my struggles!!!
     
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  32. HorseproofBacon

    HorseproofBacon Limp Gawd

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    I'd rather be stressed with a job making 200k a year than be stressed at a job making less than 30k a year (which is currently my situation). Things like car problems take on a whole new meaning when you have to decide to fix the car or pay the rent for the apartment next week...
     
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  33. crazypooljunkie

    crazypooljunkie n00b

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    Reading the article it sounds like he probably suffered from impostor syndrome or something similar. The tech startup culture is full of people who believe in order to be taken seriously you have to devote your entire life to tech and as a consequence not only exaggerate their own accomplishments but how much time they spend doing tech related stuff on the side. More skilled people tend to underestimate their skills and on top of that if you're truly among the best and the brightest you tend to get put on more difficult problems with higher failure rates. All those factors together and you could easily end up doubting your own abilities and piling on the stress. In that situation it's not just the job that's stressful but you literally think if you leave that job you won't be able to get another one because people will finally be able to see that you're a failure and can't hack it. It's not stressed with money vs stressed without money, it's depression which is a whole different level.
     
  34. OpenSource

    OpenSource Gawd

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    Joseph Thomas, who was African American, may have experienced racism as well, according to his loved ones and their lawyer.

    Oh boy, like I didn't see that coming. I'd love to be discriminated against for 170k a year even 100k really.

    Either way, I don't see why he wouldn't just quit. If he had Uber on his resume; I'm sure he was talented enough to go work for another big name if it were that stressful. He made a (poor) permanent decision for a temporary problem.
     
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  35. Semantics

    Semantics 2[H]4U

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    Giving a crap while being a manager is always a recipe for misery, i quit a job over that mostly because I was a low on the totem pole manager so taking care of my people while preserving business interest but being unable to make any significant changes is just a crappy situation.
     
  36. NickJames

    NickJames [H]ardness Supreme

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    Eh depends. I had an uncle who's a software programmer at the age of 25 that went from making 75K/year to 200K to 500K to 1M+ over 10 years. He got married at 26 and everything was going great. He had 3 kids, fancy cars and a new home every year, basically everything. Then the pressure of success started to get to him. He was working late night programming shifts and constantly going on business travel. There were months where he would program for an entire day, get 4 hours of sleep and wake up just to continue where he left off. Eventually the pressure was too great and he sold his company, made about 20M on the deal and bought his family a huge mansion. Then the dot com bubble crash happened and he lost everything. His wife cheated on him he cheated on her, they filed for divorce. He became an alcoholic and started taking some weird anxiety medication that made him paranoid. He once said the government was spying on him and that there was microphones in his cereal.. 15 years later and he's still not back to 100%. Some stress can just be too much for some people. You definitely need to find a balance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2017
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  37. Stoly

    Stoly [H]ardness Supreme

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    I've been rich (well my parents were) and I've been poor (my father lost everything) and let me tell you being rich is so much better.

    To date I'm happily married, have a 9yo kid and I make about $30,000 a year. My wife also makes 30k so that also helps.
     
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  38. Madoc

    Madoc Gawd

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    I probably didn't explain myself well enough here. I didn't mean he shouldn't have felt any stress due to how much he made, but that I'm not sympathetic towards him having so much stress that he decided he would rather be dead then continue on. In other words, I can't see how earning $170K/yr would, by itself, lead to someone becoming so stressed that they decided to off themselves. I have no doubts at all that people who make $170K/yr can live very stressful lives.
     
  39. wuzupfoo

    wuzupfoo Limp Gawd

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    1st world problems .... I'll have pity if he was dodging IEDs and Bombs from airplanes.. or needed money to eat... otherwise wth are you crying about! and to off oneself... even dumber... maybe Im being insensitive but I find this ridiculous at best..
     
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  40. HorseproofBacon

    HorseproofBacon Limp Gawd

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    I bet he could fix his car with little problem though...at least at the point when he had money.