A week after a Facebook employee died by suicide at company headquarters in Menlo Park, hundreds of people joined in front of the social media giant's "thumbs-up" billboard to remember the man who died and oppose toxic work conditions they believe may have led to his death.
The protest and vigil was held from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 26, in remembrance of 38-year-old Qin Chen, who jumped from a building at the campus. It was attended by about 400 people, some Facebook employees and many others who met for the first time at the event to remember Chen and show solidarity with his surviving family members, according to an email from event organizers to The Almanac.
The group is demanding a full investigation into the work conditions the man experienced up until his death.
They're calling their campaign "We deserve the truth," because, as they explain, "a young employee jumped to death and the (tech giant) only called it passed away and silenced critics inside of the company."
"We urge full investigation and further action from Facebook to prevent future tragedies," they added.
They told The Almanac that Facebook has kept all information about the incident confidential and deleted the man's Facebook account activities immediately after his death.
The only available information at this point, they say, is from anonymous Facebook employees who may have worked closely with him in the past.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said, "We are saddened by the tragic news that we lost one of our employees, Qin Chen, to suicide last week at our Menlo Park headquarters. And, we are doing everything we can to support his family and loved ones during this time."
"All of our actions are being guided by a world leading external expert in suicide prevention. We deeply care about our people and are providing on-site counseling to our employees and those who work on contract with Facebook, and offering mental health and suicide prevention support for all employees. Lastly, we are bringing the community together by creating safe spaces to openly share through our internal resource groups.”
Facebook declined to comment on whether an internal investigation is being conducted.
Former Facebook employee Patrick Shyu, who runs the YouTube channel TechLead, claims in a video that the man who died was from China and in the U.S. on an H-1B visa, which means that if he lost his job, his family would be impacted and he could face deportation if he didn't find a new job within six months.
Citing message boards used by Facebook employees, Shyu claims that it appears that the man may have attempted to transfer to another team within Facebook but was allegedly prevented from doing so. He was also allegedly scheduled to undergo an intense form of internal review about an hour after his death, Shyu reports. However, these details are not confirmed.
Facebook's policies on workplace harassment and bullying can be found here.
The law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is investigating the suicide and has asked people who have any information to contact Qiaojing Ella Zheng via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (415) 795-2020.
Any person who is feeling depressed, troubled or suicidal can call 1-800-784-2433 to speak with a crisis counselor. People in Santa Clara County can call 1-855-278-4204. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454.
People can reach trained counselors at Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.
Additional resources can be found here.