Qualcomm Mourns Suicide of Contract Employee at San Diego HQ

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Buildings AY and AZ at Qualcomm’s corporate complex in San Diego. Photo via hope-amundson.com

By Ken Stone

A Qualcomm engineer jumped to his death from the six-story AY building at the wireless giant’s San Diego headquarters on Sunday, a Chinese website reported Tuesday.

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The apparent suicide victim was Wu Dawei, who went by David Wu, said China Review News Service of Hong Kong.

That agency in turn cited Overseas Chinese Network as the source of the report that Wu, a full-time employee in the Modem Integration department, was among “thousands” laid off in September 2015. (Local reports at the time said 1,300 would lose their jobs in San Diego County.)

“Many Chinese colleagues were very surprised because Wu Dawei was very optimistic when he was laid off that year,” the report said. “He was at home and connected to the Android app. He rarely spoke at the company, was gentle, and had no deep relationship with everyone. His children have been in secondary school and participate in the Rancho Penasquitos swimming team.”

Tuesday afternoon, a Qualcomm spokesperson said in a statement: “This is a sad week for us at Qualcomm and we are focused on providing support to our employees during this difficult time. As this is a private family matter, we cannot provide further details. Our deepest condolences are with the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. David Wu.”

But Qualcomm confirmed that Wu was a contract employee at the time of his death.

Alex Bell, a public-safety spokeswoman for San Diego County, said the Medical Examiner’s Office has a policy against releasing information on suicides, but that any autopsy report in the case would be available in a couple of weeks.

Still, she said: “I’ve got calls from some Chinese papers as well.”

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An anonymous posting Monday on layoff.com asked: “Anybody know more details on David Wu who died last night at Bldg AY?”

The original posting was removed (but preserved via Google cache). And another posting said: “Why the yesterday post was removed? Is the admin worried David’s action would inspire his former coworkers?”

A Reddit thread included this comment: “Qualcomm informed all of their employees about it in an email blast to the whole company.”

The Chinese report also said that Qualcomm informed his family and friends and “sent letters to all employees to express their condolences.”

The story made reference to the company urging employees who face stress or suicidal thoughts to “make good use of the 24-hour Employee Assistance Program.”

Don Bauder, the former San Diego Union-Tribune business columnist, said on The San Diego Reader site Tuesday that similar Qualcomm suicides took place in 2010 and 2012.

“Because of layoffs and fears of more, along with weakening financial results, morale at Qualcomm has been low for some time,” Bauder wrote.

He quoted a source as saying: “[Wu] was at director level and then got demoted and became a [temporary]. He had been full-time for many years.”

Qualcomm’s stock price fell 0.84 percent Tuesday, and Investopedia said shares could decline as much as 15 percent “in the coming weeks.”

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