The recent suicide in April 2012 of 40 year old Qinggen Wang, a principal software engineer at Paypal, is driving discussions in the Chinese blogosphere about whether it’s worth it to come to the U.S. to pursue jobs, specifically ones that aren’t related to one’s passion in life.
Wang was well-known in China for being a “chemistry genius”, having won a gold medal in the International Chemistry Olympiad, but instead of working in chemistry, chose a career in software because of the better pay. Many bloggers speculated that Wang had given up on a career working with his passion in chemistry and that led to his depression. Being a foreigner may also have contributed, along with a stigma in the Chinese community around seeking help for mental illness.
As a long-time resident of Silicon Valley, there’s no doubt that life here is stressful. Silicon Valley is also notorious for its glass and bamboo ceilings making it difficult for Asians to climb the ladder in the corporate setting. So while I can’t comment on whether you should reconsider a decision to move to the U.S. to work, I do want to remind everyone, (as one of my fellow 8Asians writers said in regard to this news on our email list), “If you have depression, get treated. Medication can do wonders.” Wang leaves behind a wife and two children.