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New York Taxi Workers Alliance Calls On City To Help Struggling Drivers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York Taxi Workers Alliance is again calling on the city for help after the apparent suicide of another driver.

The group says six drivers have taken their own lives this year and they're blaming financial pressures caused by the huge growth of ride-sharing services.

"Something has to change," NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said Monday at a rally outside City Hall.

The alliance says the latest apparent suicide was yellow cab driver Abdul Saleh. Police said the 59-year-old was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment last week.

Friends called him a hard worker who had been driving for 30 years, but said recently, he was struggling financially.

"He was not making good money, enough for his car lease, his roommate lease, plus every month he was sending money to mom in Yemen," said neighbor Raza Hamad. "He was very upset."

Last month, an emotional vigil was held for another cab driver, Yu Mein Kenny Chow, whose body was found in the East River. Loved ones said he owed $700,000 on his medallion.

It's a problem faced by a growing number of cabbies. Competition is driving down the daily take, ramping up debt for owners who still must pay off high-priced medallions.

Activists have a list of demands for the city, including regulating ride sharing services, capping the number of cars on city streets, raising fare rates to make up for losses and establishing fair labor standards across the industry.

"We're gonna be out here every single day until the City Council votes and passes the bills that we have been calling for," said Desai.

While the city has discussed limiting the amount of app-based cars for-hire on the road, nothing has passed, DeAngelis reported.

In a statement, The Taxi and Limousine Commission says, "It is heartbreaking to hear that we've lost another of our licensees to suicide. While we may never know why Mr. Saleh made such a tragic decision, it is clear that many of his brother and sister drivers are pain and distress."

A City Hall spokesperson also released a statement, saying in part that "no financial pressure is worth a life" and asking anyone who is struggling to call 1-888-NYC-WELL for help.

Editor's note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also learn more and chat with them online by clicking here

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