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50 taxi driver suicides in past 4 years

FIFTY Dublin cab drivers have taken their own lives over the past four years.

The nightmare of trying to scrape a living – in a chronically overcrowded industry and in the teeth of a recession – is causing a range of psychological and physical problems.

"The number of suicides is astronomical," said Tony Rowe of the Committee for National Taxi Drivers.

"It's reached a stage which calls for immediate action," he told the Herald.

He claimed an average of 12 drivers are taking their lives in the capital every year as a direct result of struggling to make a reasonable living.

"Strokes and heart attacks are also far too commonplace," he said.

"Dublin City Council has done very little to improve the situation. The suicide rate is going to get worse before it gets better, that's for sure.

"There are a lot of contributing factors but stress is without doubt the biggest killer we've come across."

Mr Rowe said drivers are working increasingly long hours and being fined by gardai as they are unable to even find a place to park on a rank.

UNFORTUNATE

"We are hearing the same stories all the time from drivers. They have to go out and work a ferociously long week to try and make a living.

"One woman whose husband took his own life said that prior to the unfortunate incident he was working 16 to 18 hours a day in an attempt to make ends meet."

He accused Dublin City Council of doing "very little" to free up space in the capital for more ranks. Action in that area would go a "long way to help curb the suicide rate", he said.

"Drivers will be moved off O'Connell Street very soon, and they were moved off St Stephen's Green the other day.

"There's a very wide stretch of thoroughfare where Clerys department store is located.

"That could act as a taxi rank and house about 10 to 15 cars.

"That would go a long way to help alleviate the situation.

"Ranks on the main street in town are being closed and drivers are being pushed practically into hiding on back streets," he added.

The Samaritans said anybody who is is feeling distressed or suicidal can contact its helpline on 1850 60 90 90.

hnews@herald.ie