Financial stress the #1 cause of mens’ suicide

When I asked Khalil Shahinjouy if he would pose for a photo of a “man screaming in frustration” for me, he laughed heartily: “I already have one! Me at City Hall! “

I was so worried about the unbearable stress being piled onto members of Toronto’s taxi industry by UberX’s illegal activities last winter, I contacted a friend who heads up a mental health agency and asked for her help.

“Many of these men are being pushed past the point of endurance,” I tried to explain. “At the demonstration in December, some wanted to lay on the TTC tracks and commit suicide, because they could not bear to go home empty-handed to their families one more day. They have been shamed, humiliated and devastated by the effect of UberX on their livelihoods. It is horrific.”

We talked for a while, which was mostly me trying to explain to her the outrage the industry feels over the fact that while legal taxi drivers are subject to every minor by-law the City can dream up, UberX drivers are subject to no regulation whatsoever.

Anyway, I drafted a proposed ad for her and worked on her copy. Ironically, originally, the copy I sent her made specific reference to the fact that UBER is pushing cab drivers to the brink of insanity. My first draft was this:

“Are you stressed out over UberX?

(photo: man screaming)

Members of Toronto’s taxi industry are enduring an incredible amount of stress – financial, emotional, intellectual – since UberX arrived in town.

Did you know that one of the largest predictors of male suicide attempts is financial stress?

Symptoms of extreme stress which can destroy your health include:

  • X
  • X
  • X
  • X”


By the time we got to the final draft, my friend, who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable committing to writing the fact that it is UBER that is making taxi drivers crazy, wrote me to say:

“I took out ALL reference to Uber.  Sorry…but I just don’t want to attack.  Just offer support.”

The offer of support is so kind, and I am very grateful for all the work she did compiling the information below. I still felt like quite the failure: somehow I had not managed to explain to her that it is not the taxi industry, or Toronto traffic, or the pressure of earning a living that is destroying cab drivers; it’s UBER, and the City’s refusal to enforce its own laws.

Anyway, here is her very informative text. Maybe it will help someone in a dark moment. I hope it does.

“An open letter to our friends in Toronto’s Taxi Industry,

Are you worried about your career as a Taxi Driver or Taxi Licence Owner?

(photo: man screaming)

It has never been easy to be a member of Toronto’s taxi industry.  Hours are long, wages can be unpredictable, and regulations can be frustrating.  But for over a year now, we understand life is unimaginably hard.  Stress levels are through the roof.  Industry members are facing great financial uncertainty.  You’re suffering and your families are suffering.

We hear you and want to help.

Did you know that one of the largest predictors of male suicide attempts is financial stress?  And high levels of stress can lead to severe mental health issues.

Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Physical symptoms (head and stomach aches, fatigue, sweating, changes in appetite, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations,);
  • Constant worry and difficulty concentrating;
  • Increased irritability and/or agitation, aggressiveness, combativeness, and anger;
  • Feelings of hopelessness, distorted thinking (eg: “my life is a total failure”) and lack of confidence;
  • Prolonged sadness;
  • Changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little, insomnia);
  • Social withdrawal (friends and family);
  • Increased alcohol or drug consumption;
  • Suicidal thoughts, writings or actions.

Please know that there is no shame in seeking help for your brain health.

If you feel like these difficult times are costing you your mental health, PLEASE – ask for help!


See your family doctor and be honest with them about what’s going on.  And visit one (or call) of these agencies for support: provides a confidential help-line service available 24 hours a day to persons in Toronto in emotional distress.  The number is 416-308-HELP (4357) (or 211 on the phone).  211 is operated by the United Way and has a dedicated online section for addictions and mental health.  There, you’ll find links to distress numbers and centres that exist to HELP YOU. offers a telephone crisis line run by crisis workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at.  Crisis Line is 416-929-5200. is a non-profit initiative and has lots of resources for families.  Because whether you know it or not, your families are impacted by your mental health.  Meet ups can be a great way to meet people with similar symptoms or concerns.  There thousands of types of meetups in Toronto and you can search them all at”


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