Ad Agency Employee, 24, Dies From A Heart Attack

Gabriel Li Yuan of Ogilvy &MatherThere's ample evidence that stress and overwork are a toxic brew, leading to a host of possible illnesses, including heart disease. Still, it was shocking when an Ogilvy & Mather advertising employee in Beijiing collapsed at his desk Monday, and was later pronounced dead due to sudden cardiac arrest. After all, Li Yuan -- also known as Gabriel Li -- was just 24 years old.

Local news outlets in China immediately reported that Yuan (pictured above) died of "overwork," saying that he'd been putting in long hours in the month prior to his death, "not leaving the office until 11 p.m." But Ogilvy & Mather reps insisted that wasn't the case. In an English translation of a Beijiing Times article, sent by the advertising agency to Business Insider, Ogilvy & Mather contended that Li hadn't worked any overtime in the prior month. In fact, his supervisor said, Li had taken a week off due to a mysterious, still-undiagnosed stomach ailment. At the time of his attack, he reportedly was waiting for a relative to arrive at the office to accompany him for additional medical tests.

According to Ad Age, Li was a junior staffer, working on a team that served a Chinese tech company. He would have turned 25 this Sunday. Li's final posting on a Chinese social networking site, Sina Weibo, was a "heartbreakingly appropriate" photo of him saluting the camera, as he presumably left work for that day, Shanghaiist, a city blog, noted.

More: Ad Exec, Given Weeks To Live, Blogs About Life's Regrets And Lessons Learned

As it is in the U.S., the issue of overwork has long been an issue in China; a Chinese report claimed that 600,000 citizens die from "work exhaustion" each year. In 2011, Shanghaiist reported that a 25-year-old auditor named Angela Pan had died while working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and speculated that Pan was "worked to death." The accounting firm denied that, saying Pan had died of viral encephalitis just days after complaining of flu-like symptoms.

Shanghaist, however, noted a poignant message she'd purportedly posted on a social networking site. Reflecting on the death of another young worker at an accounting firm, Pan reportedly wrote,

"I can accept overtime. I can also accept out-of-town business trips. But on learning a young worker died from fatigue at kp [KPMG], I feel something has broken my bottom line to endure."

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For such a young man to die of a heart attack is wong, just plane wong.

May 20 2013 at 1:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to palmspringslen's comment

It's just train wrong, too.

May 21 2013 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I work really hard, cause I'm no fun...

May 20 2013 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If stress killed, EVERY basketball coach on the planet would be dead !!!!!

May 20 2013 at 12:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to goatcars's comment

You really are quite dense, aren't you, mate?

May 20 2013 at 3:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lu Ann

RIP sir

May 20 2013 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

rest in peace.....your family is very proud of your hard work and dedication. you did not die in vain.

May 19 2013 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to i23432ij's comment


May 19 2013 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mc84414's comment

That's ridiculous. I worked in the ad business for several years. It's fast-paced and hectic, but not at all life-threatening. If someone has a medical condition that can't handle that environment, then they need to work in a different industry. Jobs like that just don't kill people, and neither do their employers. He wasn't locked in a cage, starved to death or denied sleep. He wasn't a slave. Don't embellish your allegations.

May 20 2013 at 10:58 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down

Of course Asian companies over work their employees to high stress levels, they all do. Be the best, process the best, give 120% of yourself, never see your family, work for minimum wages (below the curb), never disagree with your boss, revere your boss to GOD status and so one. Workers start at 5 am and don’t finish till 11 pm, 5 days a week, SLAVE LABOR CAMPS. These Asian corporate sponsor these young kids through college and therefore think they own them; the young employees need to assure them that they will pay them back in spades, Asian companies are much like a “Mob Bookie”. These Asian companies will also not admit the huge percentage of workers committing suicide, this comes from shame at not being productive enough for their employees and families. Li Yuan aka Gabriel Li all of 24, is a child in my standards. This should have never happened, with all the medical advice and medicines available. Who was watching out for the signs? Who is watching out for the young, if companies or American companies located in Asia are going to persist on working their employees "TO DEATH", then they should all impose a weekly stress level test and give all their employees at least two additional weeks of vacations, do something, stop killing our youth…..

May 19 2013 at 11:37 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Carolyn Ferrante

Oh, this story brings me back home when I first graduated, in 1964, from one of those "finishing"/secretarial schools in New York City. We fledgling executive secretaries knew to stay away from advertising agencies if you wanted to remain healthy, both physically and psychologically. (O & M was around at that time.) I don't mean to make light of this tragedy. If this young man had any health issues at all, he should never have worked at an ad agency.

May 19 2013 at 9:35 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Hghi cholestrol in this slim young man from a culture that has a diet high in vegetables and rice...not likely. Stress can kill. While he may have had a weaker heart or some undiagnosed congential problem, stress may have been the factor that took him away from here. Frankly his entire face looks stressed...from his eyes to his facial expressions.

May 19 2013 at 3:29 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Being a Manager for many company's.This Company would deny he died from over work stress tooth and nail.You see then they would have to pay under Workman's Compensation Law.Company's commit 90% of all WC fraud.It's a silent truth and if you go to a company Doctor under workman's Comp the Company Doctor will minimize your injuries,release you from future care so the company can fire you ASAP!Oh yes company Doctors are also told do not prescribe any medication.Even if you cut a finger off and need antibiotics and something for pain they will hand you a little bag in the Doctor's office with a sample bag of pills.If the Dr prescribes you medication the company has to report your accident as a near miss.Break your face,teeth,ribs,shoulder and bulge disk Company Doctors will send you to sit at your job on light duty until you heal enough to be fired.There is no Agency State or Federal to make company's follow WC law or hold paid off Company Doctor's responsible.It's a silent truth that no one fights for.Lawyers love it also.Your forced to hire a attorney and then WC starves you so you stop fighting for your rights under the law!

May 19 2013 at 1:48 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to stevechambers2's comment

Workmans' Comp are laws of the United States.
Company plural is companies, not "company's."
You're is a contraction for "you are", not "your".
I understand you are a manager, not a writer, but still, did you graduate with poor writing skills?

May 21 2013 at 8:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Whether over work killed the guy or an illness, it's still a tragedy for someone so young to have a heart attack and die. I feel bad for his friends and family.

May 18 2013 at 8:30 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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