March 25, 2019 By Laura Hanrahan
A Lyft driver committed suicide early Saturday morning inside a car parked along Myrtle Avenue, marking the ninth cabbie suicide citywide since November 2017.
Lu Wu, 49, was found dead in the backseat of a black Hyundai Sonata near 75th Street in Glendale around 3 a.m. on March 23. Wu was found with a white powder covering his face and clothes, which police believe to be crushed up over-the-counter medicine ingested by Wu to kill himself.
Wu allegedly sent emails to his relatives saying that he was sorry and he loves them all, the New York Daily News reported.
Wu’s suicide has lead to calls for the rideshare company to drop its lawsuit against the city, fighting the new minimum wage laws that would raise driver’s pay to roughly $17.22 per hour, after expenses.
In its suit, Lyft claims that new wages, a more than $5 increase from the current average of $11.90 per hour, hurt the drivers in the long run by causing the price of rides to increase, resulting in fewer riders.
The Independent Drivers Guild, a union representing Uber, Lyft, Juno and Via drivers, has chastised the rideshare company for its unwillingness to pay drivers a living wage.
“App companies are making investors rich by holding down wages to the point where drivers are killing themselves,” the Independent Drivers Guild said in a statement to the Daily News.
While the state of Wu’s finances are unclear, the eight other suicides in the city involved debt-burdened drivers. Most recently, Roy Kim, a 58-year-old taxi driver from Bayside committed suicide in his home on Nov. 5 after struggling financially with increasing debt.
The Independent Drivers Guild offers a wellness program that provides therapy to drivers in crisis. Drivers who need help are also asked to call the city’s mental health crisis hotline at (888) 692-9355.