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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