“Tonight, I carry the keys to the office for the eighth day running. I’m still here. I have no life. Someone please take me out for drinks, kicks and giggles.”
But the young Indonesian copywriter never got the break—or the help—she was seeking. On Dec. 14, Diran posted the following tweet:
30 hours of working and still going strooong.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) December 14, 2013
Hours later, she was dead.
“Hi everyone,” Diran’s mother, Yani Syahrial, wrote Dec. 15 on Path, the image-sharing social network popular in Indonesia.
“Since last night and until now my daughter who is a copywriter lay in coma in RSPP. Chances not very good. She collapsed after continuous working overtime for 3 days last night. i have not slept since then.”
Diran would never wake up. She died of a heart failure-induced coma.
Like her mother, reportedly the creative director of an ad agency, Diran loved advertising. “Pretty words make my blood hum, and so does good food,” she wrote on her Instagram, which suggested a young writer living an exciting life in the city.
But in the days leading up to her death, her Twitter told a different story—of a workaholic struggling to “crawl out of the quicksand” of her own life:
First day back at work after being sick for three days, and I spend over 12 hours at the office. #AgencyLife
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) October 17, 2013
Spent half the night writing copy and finishing up a 23-page deck with a glass of vodka/red bull mix and now I can’t sleep. SO BEAR WITH ME.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) November 6, 2013
Home before midnight after three long, exhausting weeks. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) November 18, 2013
Sweetest sleep I’ve had in a long time. It’s a shame I’m supposed to wake up uh, ONE HOUR earlier. Slept through 3 phone calls and 3 alarms!
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) November 15, 2013
Her tweet history suggests that she struggled to break out of her work-centric lifestyle:
Sometimes I just want to sit down with someone and talk about life in general. Not about my life or other people’s lives. Just, how we live.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) November 12, 2013
How should we live. How people find that courage to crawl out of their personal quicksands and claw their way back into the living.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) November 12, 2013
Diran’s employer was the Jakarta branch of international ad agency conglomerate Young & Rubicam, which claims offices in 186 countries and 6,800 employees. As one of them, Diran routinely worked long hours. In the long weeks before her death, her family suggested, she might have worked as many as three days straight.
The VulcanPost reported that within the Indonesian Facebook and Twitter community, outrage boiled over with the hashtag #RIPMita and images like the one below, which reads, “ “How many more lives will it take to change all this? RIP, Mita Diran:”
“Mita was a talented copywriter with a gentle smile who will always live on in our hearts,” the agency wrote Dec. 15 in a statement released through Facebook and Twitter. Angry comments flooded the company’s Facebook page as friends and supporters accused the agency of fostering stressful working conditions.
Diran may not have been caught in the cutthroat business of Mad Men, but her own tweets hint at the kind of competitive atmosphere in which she worked:
I generally have less sympathy for people who work a little but complain a lot. Especially if they work in the same industry as I do.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) October 13, 2013
The song that would best describe our office outing? Daft Punk’s “Human After All”, more because of the title than anything else.
— Mita Diran (@mitdoq) October 6, 2013
Diran is not the first young employee to die on the job in recent years after working strenuous hours. A 21-year-old Merrill Lynch employee recently died after suffering an epileptic seizure that may have been due to extreme overworking and stress. A Beijing ad agency employee died in May after collapsing due to “work-related exhaustion.”
Industry insiders suggested the two ad agency deaths were due to improper project management on the part of supervisors. Additionally, Diran reportedly subsisted on Krating Daeng, the Thai predecessor of Red Bull, during her marathon work sessions. Though Red Bull is currently facing a wrongful death lawsuit, no deaths have been officially attributed to Krating Daeng.
On Twitter, friends and supporters have sent condolences and words of caution using the hashtag #RIPDiraMiran.
“Please people,” wrote her mother’s coworker on Path the night of Miran’s passing. “Know your own body limits and don’t push yourself too hard.”
Photo via @mitdog/Twitter