Cyprian Is Nyakundi

A Driver’s Suicide and a Brother’s Guilt


In a series of interviews this year, Richard said he believed that he owed it to Kenny to share their story to try to prevent more suicides.

But he also said he had begun feeling the weight of carrying the industry’s collective sorrow. He said he had decided to stop answering calls from reporters. He added that his publicity had created tension with friends and angered some of his siblings.

During one conversation, at a taxi stand in Chinatown, Richard said he sometimes wondered whether the death was his fault. He had encouraged his brother to join the taxi industry, to buy a medallion, to sign the loans.

He also wondered if he could have done more when Kenny started becoming sad. Should he have lent him money? Or forced him to go to therapy? Or reported him to the city?

“I didn’t have any experience with the depression,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Today, Richard is still struggling to pay his own loan. He owes $402,000, and he said it is hard to make the $2,766 monthly payments. He cannot support his daughter and his son, 19, who are both in school.

If officials do not bail out medallion owners, as they are considering, he plans to declare bankruptcy.

For now, Richard works seven days a week, typically from 10 a.m. until midnight.

Every day, to get to work, he takes the Brooklyn Bridge, driving over the river where his younger brother took his last breath.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.


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