Taxi driver commits suicide outside New York City Hall

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A taxi and limo driver who blamed local and state leaders for “destroying” his industry has committing suicide outside City Hall, officials say.

The incident happened at about 7:30 a.m. ET on Monday when 61-year-old Doug Schifter drove his vehicle to the east side gate of City Hall, which is located near the Brooklyn Bridge. Schifter then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department said the suicide was being treated as an “isolated incident.” The vehicle did not hit the gate and Schifter never left his vehicle. No one else was injured as a result of the shooting.

The suicide came less than 3 hours after Schifter posted a lengthy note on Facebook in which he blamed local and state officials for “destroying a once thriving industry.”

Schifter blamed the rising number of taxi drivers and said he was unable to make ends meet despite working 100 to 120 hours almost every week for the past 14 years. He said he was in poor health and without health insurance, his vehicle had repeatedly broken down, and he was at risk of losing his home.

The rise of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft has put increasing pressure on traditional taxi drivers. The value of a taxi medallion, which drivers need for the right to operate a yellow cab in New York City, has plummeted over the past few years. Uber and Lyft don’t require the medallions, which are capped at less than 14,000.

The taxi medallions used to be a solid path to financial security as they could be used as collateral for buying a house and could be leased out for up to $3,600 a month once the driver decided to retire. But the falling demand for medallions has caused its value to plummet rapidly, leaving many medallion owners with an uncertain future.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the U.S. Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, a free and 24/7 service that can provide suicidal persons or those around them with support, information and local resources.

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