Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Suicide Among Student Debtors - Who's Thought About It?

There are quite a number of articles about the concern that suicide rates will increase vis-a-vis to the increased number of people who are facing long-term unemployment (here's the most recent one I've come across). But what about those who are struggling to pay their student loans? Here are several more personal questions I have about this highly sensitive topic:

-Have you contemplated suicide because of the amount of student loan debt you owe?

-Have you started engaging in risky behavior (heavy drinking, using drugs, etc.) because of your student loan debt?

-Are you taking medications, such as anti-anxiety pills or anti-depressants, to cope with being an indentured educated citizen?


69 comments:

gail said...

In answer to your questions; Yes I have thought about suicide. Yes, I drink now almost daily which is something I have only done 2-3 times a year before now.
Yes, I take meds to sleep at night and multiple blood pressure meds along with anxiety meds (when I can scrape up some cash to get the Rx's filled)

Anonymous said...

I've thought about it, but when my deferments run out all they will really do is harass me on the phone (which I can just turn off) or sue me, and nothing really changes much.

If you work, just work under the table. If you don't work, then they can't take anything anyway. What can you do? Try to figure a way out of the country I guess.

Anonymous said...

I've started drinking a lot more regularly, especially since realizing that I'll have to go back to get a Master's degree to get out of law.
Yes, I've considered suicide.
I don't think I engage in more risky behaviors, but I'd like to.

Anonymous said...

Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem; although my debt is looking more and more permanent. I have three people that keep me here: mother, father, and brother. Instead of suicide, if I had no family, I would consider relocating out of the country and try starting fresh.

Anonymous said...

If my state didn't have a law against loan companies being able to take money out of my paycheck I'd be gone. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs though.

Anonymous said...

I was very actively looking into suicide until I got on anti-depressants. Now I have to take happy pills every day to keep the suicidal urges at a minimum level.

You are correct to ask the question. Many of the folks who are incredibly deep in law school debt will end up killing themselves. I think, in the next 1-3 years, we are going to see absolutely massive numbers of law school graduate suicides.

Anonymous said...

Law grad here. I've got several lawyer friends with similar debt levels who are nearing the end of their ropes. Of those who've admitted to contemplating suicide, I'm surprised by the number who've told me that if they go out, they have no intention of going alone. If they're telling the truth (and I hope to god they're not), I certainly would not want to be a law school administrator.

Anonymous said...

There are none of the usual federal figures for suicides for 2008 & 2009, and there won't be for 2010 either. They have been censored.

Even if they did publish some 'numbers', who would believe the group that got us to this point? Suicide rose sharply when zero COL for Social Security was announced right after the election...people who already had to chose between medicine and food. How about now with people losing more homes, jobs, crushing debt, shame and hopelessness? And for doing what? Exactly what we were told to do that would make us successful and America a better country.

I've reached 0 tolerance for the loan collectors 'blame the victim' game. I got toasted by sweet lies from the people I trusted most.Yes, antidepressants since graduation.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous Aug, 17, 2010 at 4:52 PM - Wow that's terrifying and just awful to hear. Sadly, it's not surprising, is it?

Anonymous said...

Pray tell, what state does not allow garnishment? I am ready to move now!!! Please, say! In my state, I can have clothing, used furniture, and a car not worth over $1500; the collectors are entitled to seize and sell at auction anything they can find.

Antidepressants, diazepam, sleeping pills and still 4-5 hours of sleep at night. I'm sick, alone, I've lost my family in a divorce over this, no future--a debt hostage in my own country. Sure, I have thought about ending it every single day for the last 10 years, since my deferment ran out.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous Aug 17, 2010 6:57 PM

I am very sorry to hear that you have lost so much. It's heartbreaking to read that you are a 'debt hostage' in your own country. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Counseling resources. Many of these are free or "income-based sliding scale".

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-784-2433
www.psychologytoday.com/topics
therapists.psychologytoday.com
www.DebtorsAnonymous.org (781-453-2743)

Ironically, most colleges also offer free or low-cost counseling for students, alumni, and the general community.

Anonymous said...

In my case, they came after the tax returns of my husband to get their money. We didn't marry until a decade after I got the loan. It wasn't his responsibility. I don't see how that can be legal but at least I am paid off now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I thought about suicide a lot over the past few years. I take anti depressants and I had been smoking cigarettes for months but I did end up quitting. The big issue with that is I want to be an opera singer so it was my way of giving up. I'm trying to do what I can to get through this... and praying for an answer.

Anonymous said...

hey c cryn,

yes, sometimes and yes.

i think about suicide sometimes really seriously and sometimes just wish for death. . .and it is not even my debt, but it has been a part of my life my whole adulthood (25 yrs) and direct loans consolidation has assured me that it will be with me till i am 70+. i know when i finally die i will be a little happy just for this reason.

the despair that i feel over money we can't possibly pay back and having it grow larger daily is a stress that begs for extra curricular activities.

i did get antidepressants from a doctor and student loan stress was the biggest reason, i told her so. i needed to 'care less' i was going through menopause and it was too much to handle it all by myself.

i still think about dying, sworn off of most things of a extra curricular nature most of the time and no longer take anti depressants. . .

2 outta 3 ain't bad?

Anonymous said...

http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/state-wage-garnishments.html#7

and. xanax is my friend.

Eileen Pearlman said...

I am so heartbroken reading all of the posts. I know so many young people, my daughters included, who are in the same situation. Wish there was more help out there. Thank you to Cryn for all of the hard work she is doing. I wish I could do more.

Valerie said...

I wasn't able to finish college. I used my retirement savings to pay for my own student loans. I had to take out Parent Plus loans and use my credit cards to pay for my daughter's undergrad schooling. I paid off the credit part using debt consolidation - took five years. She's going in to a medical profession with great prospects so I'm not worried about her. My situation, however, is that I'm unemployed - almost 3 years now, burnt out, disabled, my daughter is ashamed of me because I'm poor and unemployed and I don't know how I'm going to pay off the student loan debts. She told me that she's ashamed of me and she treats me badly. It's weird how I worked so hard to try to educate myself, lift myself out of poverty, get that dreamed of college education and encouraged my daughter to excel and now she's headed for a profession and I'm still a big loser. I get sad - I got nothing.

Anonymous said...

I think about suicide every day. I cannot take it anymore. I get degrading calls all day long from Sallie Mae and Chase telling me how irresponsible I am. All I have done is try to better myself by receiving a college education. I was the first one in my family to go to college and graduate. I truly believed college would prepare me for a successful career and I would be able to pay my loans back. I am making the same amount as I did in college and see no way out. I zero out my bank account each month to pay bills. I don't have anything extra to put towards my loans. All I ever wanted out of life was a decent job, to own a house, and have a family. My credit is ruined so I will never own my own home. I can't afford to take care of myself so why would I bring another person into this world when they are set up for failure. If I could afford the liquor I would drink every night and hopefully I wouldn't wake up.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Thanks so much for sharing everyone. Please remind yourself on a daily basis that you are not a failure and that this is not your fault. We are all facing this together, and we will succeed. We must crush this system and start afresh. If I were to meet you in person, I would never in my life think that you were failures. We all want simple things - a home, a family, a decent job. We all believed that a college degree would get us some where, but it hasn't, and we were tricked (to a degree). But I urge you never to give up. If you wish to speak to me further, I can always be reached by email (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com). If it's desperate, I will gladly talk to you by phone. As you can see there are hotlines that you can use.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-784-2433
www.psychologytoday.com/topics
therapists.psychologytoday.com
www.DebtorsAnonymous.org (781-453-2743)

Anonymous said...

Death is definitely the only way out of my hopeless student loan situation.
I have thought of suicide, but am of the belief that Suicide is a terrible sin. That one has no right to take the life that God has given to them. And that there is a special place in Hell reserved for the Suicides (As in Dante's Inferno)
Death is a bad business, but on the positive side, and when I do die someday, and in some way other than suicide--accident-illness etc. at least the collection bastards won't be able to pursue me anymore.
In the meantime I've developed a nasty drinking habit, and, to be honest, it helps to numb the feelings of great despair over close to 300 thousand in Student Loans.
No meds though. No Anti-Depressants. Only Beer. Ice cold and frosty.
I'm glad people can talk about this, and your efforts are very much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
http://www.fair-debt-collection.com/state-wage-garnishments.html#7

Thank you! "All my bags are packed and I'm ready to go.....leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again."

Anonymous said...

It crosses my mind daily. Then I realize my mom co-signed two of my loans and they will be knocking on her door after I'm dead and gone. I've realized my life is ruined because of these loans. If Sallie Mae, Chase, Citi, Firstmark, etc. etc. would accept the $50 I could afford to send them I wouldn't be in the despair I am in.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous, August, 2010 3:09 PM, I am really sorry that this idea crosses your mind that often. I sincerely hope that you can seek help from a therapist to discuss these feelings of despair. Rest assured, you are not alone. There are so many people like you who feel like dying is the only option. Then they stop short of that decision because of the fact that there was a co-signer on the loan. But just remember: life is precious. Even though you're trapped (and you are, I know), that shouldn't drive you to suicide. Again, I am terribly distressed to read these sorts of remarks. But it motivates me to continue fighting for the indentured educated class. If you ever wish to speak to me directly, you can email me here: ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com.

Also, perhaps calling a Hotline would help? Here's some information that someone else posted and I'll post it for the second time:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-784-2433
www.psychologytoday.com/topics
therapists.psychologytoday.com
www.DebtorsAnonymous.org (781-453-2743

Keep in mind, you can find a therapist who will charge you on a "sliding scale," i.e., their rates will be based upon your income. It's worth exploring, if you haven't done so already. These people can help console you.

You're in my thoughts every moment - I live and breath this stuff. So you haven't been forgotten, and I will fight for our rights until the day I die.

Spekkio said...

I know I'm a little late to the party....

@Valerie: Is the daughter that's ashamed of you the same daughter that you helped through school? If so, please slap her upside the head for me. Her abuse (that's what it is) is shameful. So many people's parents can't or won't help them with higher education. And shame may be the most paralyzing emotion there is. I know this because I fight it all the time myself.

@Anonymous 21AUG10 @ 4:30am: I go to extremes to stay out of religion. It's a personal thing and there's an awful lot I don't understand. But I feel compelled to comment because I don't think that suicide that stems from mental illness is a sin. I don't think that's fair. The way I see it, people who commit suicide have died as a result of mental illness. As a society, we stigmatize mental illnesses and developmental disorders. If you die of breast cancer...not your fault. If you die because of the flu...not your fault. If you die in a freak accident...not your fault. If you commit suicide...totally your fault. And in large part...that's not how it works. Suicidal thoughts can pop into your head unbidden and start to overwhelm you. Help and treatment can counter this, but there's no guarantee because antidepressants are unreliable. Believe me, I know - I've taken just about every SSRI that's available over the years.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating suicide. But (in most cases) people who have committed suicide are victims, not bad people.

As to the larger point, I was mentally ill before student loan debt became a concern. But it sure as hell doesn't help. So...out of sight, out of mind.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cryn, this Wall of posts is really a sad testimony to the situation here. Worth publicizing. This one's comment I find especially poignant:

"...How about now with people losing more homes, jobs, crushing debt, shame and hopelessness?

And for doing what? Exactly what we were told to do that would make us successful and America a better country.

I've reached 0 tolerance for the loan collectors 'blame the victim' game. I got toasted by sweet lies from the people I trusted most..."

I say this: widespread Debtor Amnesty or old-school DEBTOR REVOLT!

Anonymous said...

To Spekkio:

I am the 8-21 4:10Am comment you refer to.
I did not mean to offend. Maybe I am too simple minded. It is just that reading Dante's Inferno as a teenager so many years ago, and the part about the dark "Wood of the Suicides" so horrified me, and made such a lasting impression, and turned me towards religion in a sense.

Judy Collins, the singer/musician wrote a book about suicide. Her son took his life, and she even wrote a song about it.
I heard her interview on NPR. It might have been in 2005. It was so sad, and the song will bring tears to your eyes.

I never did read the book, but one thing from the interview that I thought was very interesting was the idea that suicide tends to run in families.

I had a great Uncle that "did himself in". His mother, My Great Grandmother, had a very hard time with the Catholic Church in obtaining a religious funeral, and with her son being buried in hallowed ground etc. (We are talking the 1940's.) My poor Gandmother never spoke of it, and I only leared of it through her sister, my great Aunt. (All late of the Parish).

And good luck to Cryn with the NPR interview.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am horrified and sickened by all of this....wow! NOTHING is worth suicide. Debt is just debt. Money is not everything. We were tricked, lied to and drank the kool-aid. Why kill YOURSELF over something you cannot control? CHange the belief system and expectations and remember you CAN be a good person and be in debt. IF GOD FORGIVES YOU, WHO ARE YOU TO NOT FORGIVE YOURSELF?

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous Sept. 29, 2010 - I agree with you that debt is not worth taking your life for. However, we also must be sensitive to the dark despair people feel when facing this sort of personal problem. But you are right. That's exactly why I posted this piece.

Anonymous said...

John Lennon once wrote a song called GOD

God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I'll say it again,
God is a concept,
By which we can measure,
Our pain,
I don't believe in magic,
I don't believe in I-ching,
I don't believe in bible,
I don't believe in tarot,
I don't believe in Hitler,
I don't believe in Jesus,
I don't believe in Kennedy,
I don't believe in Buddha,
I don't believe in mantra,
I don't believe in Gita,
I don't believe in yoga,
I don't believe in kings,
I don't believe in Elvis,
I don't believe in Zimmerman,
I don't believe in Beatles,
I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that's reality.
The dream is over,
What can I say?
The dream is over,
Yesterday,
I was dreamweaver,
But now I'm reborn,
I was the walrus,
But now I'm John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over.

Life is painful even without debt, you just have to carry on!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's so true. Johns message doesn't mean you have to give up the fight for justice though, you just have to face reality and carry on.

More importantly the reality is that... there are, have been and will be more financial hardship with despair pushed onto one that just wants a better education. If we don't fight this reform now there will be nothing but more student lending anarchy. Nini

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous September 30 - well said. There will be more despair, and that's why I'm raising holy hell about this crisis. Sadly, at this juncture, no one is willing to listen. That'll change . . . or at least I'll trying to make it so.

Anonymous said...

I've paid about $9,000 to Sallie Mae since May 2010. My principle has gone down about $1,000. It's outrageous, demoralizing and sickening to think about! I'm pretty sure I'll develop some sort of physical and mental ailment from the massive stress. Suicide is definitely on the table. The only good thing about my situation is that I didn't have a co-signer.
But in spite of it all, I still have hope that change will come. Just living day by day and pay check to pay check.

Anonymous said...

I fully intend to kill myself the moment I finish my Phd, which will be in 8-9 months. I was lucky enough to receive full funding for my doctoral program, but carry a great deal of debt from undergrad. I realize now that a Phd in humanities guarantees me a life of miserable poverty and debt-related harassment. That, combined with the scorn I know I will face from more successful family members makes life unappealing. I would do it now, but for some reason I'm still invested in finishing my thesis. Not long to wait, in any case.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I can't afford medication or therapy for the anxiety my student debt is causing. I had health insurance through my job for about 9 months before demoting myself (I actually make more money now with tips) and even when I had the health insurance it didn't cover what I actually needed, nor would I be able to afford copays. So no, medication is not a luxury I can afford right now...and it's directly BECAUSE of my student debt. Funny I guess, but I'm not laughing.

I hope it doesn't take some people taking their lives for the government to wake up and realize that this is a serious problem and needs to be dealt with. People, please don't kill yourselves because your government has failed you.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous November 2 7:41 PM

There are obvious reasons why you should not take your own life. I won't go into those, but want you to know that I am happy to discuss your predicament. You are welcome to email me at ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com. This may sound callous, and I don't mean to be that way, but if you have co-signers on your loans, your lenders will go after them, too. So suicide should not be the answer for practical reasons, too.

I've said this to others on this post, it might be in your best interest to call a Hotline? Here's some information that someone else posted and I'll post it for the third time:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
1-800-784-2433
www.psychologytoday.com/topics
therapists.psychologytoday.com
www.DebtorsAnonymous.org (781-453-2743

Keep in mind, you can find a therapist who will charge you on a "sliding scale," i.e., their rates will be based upon your income. It's worth exploring, if you haven't done so already. These people can help console you.

I hope this helps. Don't give up. The fight has only just begun, and we can't lose people like you.

Anonymous said...

I know this is a late comment, but just read this thread and it hit home. Yeah, I'm pretty much contemplating it, and will probably do it fairly soon. There's just no way out - and it's not that "life is all about money" or anything like that. It's more just the combination of the despair, family alienation, constant harrassment by creditors, a life of garnishment and lawsuits, and pretty much no way out, even if I were to score a job tomorrow that paid double what I currently make - wouldn't even begin to make a dent in all the fees, charges, accrued interest, etc. So I'm pretty much toast. Just remaining here at the moment as to not screw over my dog.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Anonymous Dec 17th - do not do this . . . do not . . . it is NOT worth it.

Karin Ryan said...

Dear Anonymous,
PLEASE do not take your own life...you can start over with bankruptcy or some other way...I have met people who have lost everything that have eventually rebuilt their lives and are happy. You can find happiness, I'm sure of it. You are precious, a noble human being who belongs on this earth. I am so sorry for your pain, but there is help. Don't know where you live, but perhaps you could walk into a church or mosque or synagogue or Bahai'i Center--I'm a Baha'i--and ask for guidance. Or you could do volunteer service work (homeless shelter, etc), which helps connect human beings to each other who are struggling. Also, please listen to Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up"...you might be surprised that there is help around you. Please...

Ivan said...

Anonymous, have you tried declaring bankrupcy?
That maybe one way to go. But also...
Look up ALL available information online, or
elsewhere. Saying, that giving up is NOT an option may sound corny, but often times is completely true. Fighting debt is possible and
the right way to do it CAN be found.
Talk to everyone you CAN talk to for support.

rolinstnz said...

anonymous, hang in there, it will get better. Nothing is ever so bad that suicide is the solution. Please be patient and search for another way. Life can get overwhelming at times but trust me, tomorrow is worth being around for.

Ray D said...

Suicide isn't the answer. If for no other reason than because it removes any other opportunities that might happen your way. If you feel you have no opportunities, you're wrong.

Life consists only of opportunities: good, bad or otherwise. Th...ere are no rules to this life accept those you chose to abide (as evidenced by the state of the economy and the hate/power/war mongers that abound).

One thing you have in every opportunity is just walking away from any situation. It's a perfectly viable solution but if you take your life, you can't even walk away from your troubles. So don't. Change is constant, trust in that.

Anonymous said...

I am writing to the one anonymous who wishes to end this life. Who wants to be heard but has been silent and feels there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Who has worked long and hard to achieve a higher education to better humanity.
There is so much light you are not seeing, you are only living the despair and the desperation of debt that you owe or even if its more than that, while your life goes by. You have let the misery & worry consume you with all of its glory.
You are more than this debt, you are someones brother,sister,daughter,son,father,mother, friend,confidant, Gods child. You are more than you have in debt and mean more to many than you think or know. If you choose to leave this life do it because it was your choice not because of debt. Your accomplishments will not go unnoticed, nor will your contributions if you choose a easier or harder path. You have been a contributor all this time but yet you feel you are a consumer because you owe money?
All that you were will be defined by a suicide. The message you feel you will send is that this was a solution? I think not, I think you should believe in you and what your dreams were and still are to achieve. Dont let the demons ruin your original goals. I believe in you.
nini

Anonymous said...

This is the first time that I have ever spoke of this except to myself. I remember a time a few years ago when I looked forward to the future, I was good to myself and I had dreams. Now all of that is dead. I am on LOA from a 4 year professional program and if I don't go back to finish soon I will be dismissed from the university. I have no more money to finish and way to many mental problems to even care about finishing school anymore. I am 30 years old, live at home, am $200,000 + in debt and take several medications just to make it through the day and sleep a few hours at night. I do think about suicide almost daily, but I would never do it now because it would kill my dad so basically he is the only one that is keeping me here.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you don't all just declare bankruptcy? I mean all of you and encourage your friends to do it too. A bankruptcy couldn't impact your lives as badly as this debt is doing. What have you got to lose except your debt?

Anonymous said...

When I woke up, I'd wonder whether today's the day to blow my brains out. Fortunately, I managed to snag a remunerative non-legal career. In a lot of ways, that saved my life. And that phase of my life has passed. The first step is to flush the poison.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure what we are supposed to do about this situation besides end it all. I worked my ass off to give myself a chance at a normal life. I grew up in severe poverty. I managed to get a huge chuck of my undergrad covered with scholarships, working while in school, and living off the bare minimum possible. However I made the mistake of going to law school right before the market crashed. So now I have a total of 200K in loans and there are no law jobs to be heard of anywhere.

After almost killing myself to get out of poverty I'm back squarely in it. There is no relief for any of us in this economy. I don't really see what else there is that we can do...

studentloan said...

Yes. With over 200k in student loan debt, I think about suicide daily. I thought going to law school would put me in a better position to raise a family, buy a house and help my family. I bought the education song and dance hook, line and sinker.

As a first generation college graduate, my family is so very proud, but without the means to help me. And, I have no where to turn. I'm too ashamed to tell my family that I can't afford to turn on the heat or even eat some nights. If I get behind on these bills and default, I will lose my license to practice law.

I'm not trying to skirt my responsibility. It was my decision to take out these loans. I just wish that the payments did not consume over half of my monthly income. I wish there was enough left over to cover my living expenses. With the interest that's charged, 26 years from now my total bill will be over 400k for my education. It's not a reality you can fully understand until you are out of school.

And, more importantly, I wish we would educate our youth about the cost of an education, encourage smart investment and force schools to provide accurate information regarding employment statistics post-graduation. We, my generation, has become the indentured generation.

If you would like to contact me for further information, please, email me at studentloandebtor@gmail.com.

Rachel said...

Yes, no, and yes.

Anonymous said...

Yes all the time
No, I cant afford it
No, I cant afford it

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

I hope that you know that you are not alone in your struggle, and that you are suffering as a result of a great injustice that is occurring in this country. Don't give up!

Elizabeth said...

I have already decided. If I cannot get a job that pays me at least 75k by the end of this year I WILL try to go to another country. If the country doesn't allow me to get into there, I will off myself and be done with it.

Money isn't everything? WHAT A disgusting LIE! I can't vacation, I have no money. I can't go have a wonderful dinner out with friends, I have tons of debt. I can't go to the park for a day and CHILL, I need the money. I can't take a day off from work, I need the money. I can't relax, my payments are insane. My fucking loans won't let me. And I'm at the end of my rope. Maybe I should tie a knot at and make a nice bauble out of myself,considering it's nice and long now because I am such a moron...

I can't read a book without a phone call from these bastards. I can't even sleep well...oh who am I kidding. They don't care. Maybe my death will mean something to some asshole up on Capital hill, considering they all suck, and don't give a crap about anyone but themselves.Nor do they WANT to give a damn about anyone but themselves. Why bother living? I'm sure I am a pathetic piece of crap, and I shouldn't have bothered going to college. I should have gone ahead and meth'd up and killed myself that way.

I tried positive thinking, and it didn't help me. I tried working harder, and now I'm even worse off.

Anonymous said...

My name is Jerry and I too am another former student contemplating about suicide. Many years ago, I wanted to join the Army or the Navy and if I decided not to make the armed forces my future career choice, I would go to college. My family ostracized me for taking an interest in the military. It didn't help either that the Columbine shootings occurred. For some reason, my school found a correlation between the two, forcing me to find another potential future for myself or be labeled as a potential school-shooter.
I too was alienated by my parents to go to a college, whose only evidence of having a prosperous future with a BA degree was based on a late 20th century myth. In high-school, my grades were average and the only way I even got accepted into a college was because of my extra-curricular activities and the leadership titles I possessed. I though college was a second chance for me. My parents divorcing and the difficulties I faced in high school seemed like I would never really amount to anything.
I never did get any additional funding and I had to take out private student loans from Wachovia (now Wells Fargo)and Citi Bank. My grandmother was my co-signer. She told me that she didn't mind since she didn't have much time left anyway and would always tell me, "I did deserve a better future." I tried to enroll in grad school, but I couldn't handle anymore debt.
I am $60,000 in debt total (with private and federal loans), my short forbearance is almost up, I have yet to find a job that will pay me $400 estimate (post tax) a week. My last job's weekly pay would not allow me to keep up with payments. I pay about a total of $600 total for all my payments. The Federal loan individuals have allowed me to only pay $30 a month as long as I can prove economic stress. But... interest will continue to accumulate.
I have though about suicide long before I ever went to college, but these student loan debts are now pushing me over the edge. My mother and step-father threaten to put me away and never want to hear my feelings about the matter. To them, they feel they've done there part as parents by just giving me material things in a hypocritical reciprocity. If I would have succeeded, they would have publicly pounded there proud chests saying they financed my success. Now that it seems I am failing, they appear to be washing their hands of me.
I can't stand when people say choice is the underlying factor. In the words of Ryan Keely, "No single causal factor can explain any complex phenomena." In other words, all those Frankensteins should at least admit to their creations. I didn't feel the way I do now without having the domestic and social factors play into my mindset. And now that it is too late and everyone is preparing to retreat away from the psycho, why shouldn't I even bother to live. This is the 21st century, where heroes and virtue is the stuff of legends and villainy is the formula for greatness.
I feel amnesty should be given to a victim's family (whether they die of natural causes or suicide). This is probably why I studied about ancient prehistoric societies in college. Back then, barbarians could sweep in and destroy corruption on the edge of a sword. Now... I practically dug my own grave.

Anonymous said...

Cryn,

While I have not thought seriously about suicide, I am on xanax to help combat my anxiety. I have good days and bad. I truly wish that when freshman enter college, they are given a rude awakening about student loans. Even though there are scholarships, work study, and grants, not everyone qualifies. Plus , everyone is not in a position to just simply write a check each semester for tuition, books, and living expensive. Student loan debt can also prohibit you from getting a job in the future. It is a catch 22. You have trouble getting a job with a degree and have trouble without one. Has anyone thought of a site to help pay off student loans? I am not referring to a fundraiser like a company I will not speak of, but something similar to donors choose? It might be very much worth while. It seems to me that the student loan crisis is bigger than the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The government bailed out the banks, why not help student loan borrowers?

Anonymous said...

I do not owe that much, but at 50, unmarried, childless, no job, with nothing that I can call my own, a worthless degree, chronic depression, and being a burden to my own family, I guess I have not much to live for. My credit is in shambles due to a student loan that I could not pay on time due to unemployment. Not many companies will hire a person of my age, also I can not even buy a car or anything of value. My life savings worth at best 300 dollars and I do not qualify for SS due to not having enough working credits. I do not have a health plan, much less a retirement fund. I made bad decisions however, other people can make bad decisions and still after a while, recover and start over. That is what bankruptcy is for. Not so for student loans. To think that some people once told me that I was an intelligent person for getting into college makes me wonder. I was not. I was just someone that got caught in the mess of an education, that was worthless, and the only way to pay for it was student loans, when you know that your parents are dirty poor and, obviously, could not help you at all. I served in the Army and used my GI Bill, but still ended up with student loan debt for the rest of my so called life. I guess after my mother dies, my decision to leave this still beautiful world will be easier. Sometimes, even to my own shame and guilt, I had wishes for her to die, so after that I can kill myself knowing that she would not suffer for my decision. I think that I had lost my mind and my humanity, anyway what is left of them. Maybe I turned into a despicable selfish person who can struggle no more when there is no hope of finding a way out of a life of being an unemployed and an unproductive burden to society. I do not believe in the afterlife in heaven or hell, but I wish reincarnation could be true. At least I would have another chance. But if not, then it will not matter anyway. I will speed up my exit out of this misery, and in a couple of years I would be only a memory in the minds of the few people that cared about me and nothing at all for the rest of the world. A mere statistic that nobody would care to know.

Anonymous said...

College debt is as depressing as hell. Every time I get depressed I sit down and write out a very creative letter with every letter imaginable and send if off to the ED or my former college or the president and then I feel much better.

Anonymous said...

I have definitely contemplated suicide. I have $130,000 of debt for a grad degree (not law) that I'm afraid I won't be able to finish, and I honestly can't see any way out from under it. What makes it particularly painful is that I desperately wanted to go to medical school and do some good in the world, but am in far too much debt to ever get there now it looks like (and btw, this particular degree was NOT worth the cost). :( I don't smoke, and if I could afford to drink I would do it much, much more. No drugs yet (legal or otherwise).

I tell everyone I meet that unless they want to never be able to afford their own house, to feed their family, or to have any financial peace of mind, they should run screaming from any form of student loan-financed education. Wish someone had told me that. :(

Anonymous said...

I think about it all the time. I don't want to be a burden on anyone. My loans were $60,000 but since I defaulted on them they are now $180,000. I don't know how that is even legal for the gov't to do but they have. I don't even make $13.00 an hour working in social services. I can never pay that amount back with how much I earn. My loans defaulted because I ended up in a very abusive marriage with man who ended up getting addicted to crack and alcohol. I was barely surviving and I was afraid to leave but I finally did and tried to make things right with my loans but it was too late. And they don't care that I was raped and abused by this man and was afraid to breathe yet leave him but I got brave and left. I want to pay my loans and all other bills but I am ready to give up. I am so afraid. I think about suicide all the time because I don't want to be a burden or a failure. I want to have hopes and dreams and a reason to live and to be happy. I want to believe that there is hope for a better tomorrow and that somehow I can fix my life but I don't think there I can. I believe that I have a terminal illness in the form of student loans and death is the only way to ease my pain and to keep from being a burden on others. I take meds for depression and to help me sleep but they don't help much. The only reason I haven't killed myself is because I don't really want to die. I just want my life back and to not live in shame anymore.

Anonymous said...

To be honest I don't want to live anymore. I found myself at times waking up saying "God damn it, I'm still alive." Sometimes I fantasize about how I can make a suicide look like an accident so my family won't have to know that I killed myself over student loan debt. I have gotten emotional help but no matter how many meds they prescribe me I still have the feeling to kill myself. I come from a low income family and no matter if i am granted deferments or forbearance I am still gonna have to pay more plus interest and I don't want to live with that my life is already difficult as it is. I just want to just drop dead and I may do that myself I just don't know how. I just don't know what to do anymore. I am 19 I am too young to feel like this.

Anonymous said...

Well. Here's my story...

I was one of those people who fell into The Hole. By The Hole, I mean that ridiculous situation where my parents made JUST enough money for me not to qualify for the scholarships that lower-income students receive, but not enough to actually help me with college whatsoever.

And then...I got into an Ivy League school and I couldn't turn it down. I recognize that it was my decision to go, and that I could have attended my state school for much less (possibily even for free). But when you are 18 years old and you have the chance to go to a famous place like that, it seems absolutely worth it. I have $100,000 from undergrad, which has grown to about $120,000.

I'm starting medical school (M.D.) in a month. By the time I finish medical school I will have approximately $350,000 in debt. (For anyone who is wondering, I DID NOT fall into the prestige trap again. As soon as I was admitted to my state medical school, I withdrew my application everywhere else). Medical school tuition, even for in-staters, is 35K a year. Then you have to add living expenses on top of that.

Yes, I realize that I am one of the lucky ones. I probably won't have a job that pays less than 200K a year. I'll eventually get out from under the cloud. But I won't actually be making that salary for another 10 years. I am actually considering getting a job while in medical school (which seems insane) so I can make interest payments on my current loans. Right now I work a minimum-wage job and have most of my loans in deferment...I pay about $400/month on the private loans I owe.

Before I got accepted to medical school (and believe me, I actually sobbed the day I got my letter), I thought occasionally about suicide. I am on a high dose of antidepressants. I isolated myself from my friends and family because I couldn't bear to answer the question , "So what do you do?" ...especially after graduating with good grades from the Ivy League. I constantly, constantly labeled myself as a failure. I took sleeping pills every night for two years.

When I hear proponents of Obamacare on the radio shouting that 'the rich doctors should get paid less', I want to scream. The rich doctors? With 350K in debt? That is the scariest thing on my horizon....if they decide to cut my salary, I am totally screwed. I think the cost of education in this country is disgusting.

Send me good vibes.

Anonymous said...

Many many times... but incredibly much more since 2008. I was just getting to paying down student loans and then shit happened. I graduated in 2005 in my 30s after many part-time years in school while working and no support from anyone. Finally had a nice position, a nice career in my life. Finally had some breathing room for bills, managing things. Living a decent life, getting to the rest of the long ago neglected areas of my life before the 2nd Great Depression took it all way.

I try to have hope and work through this, but its been so many years and student loans are breathing down my neck again. I never recovered financially. I just can't get by on minimum wage, I need to get out on my own again. And Yes by that I mean supporting myself and not with relatives. I'm an adult not someone trying to work at burger king.

Anonymous said...

$220,000 in debt. No job prospects. No doubt in my mind what will happen if I keep getting bills for $3000 a month

Anonymous said...

when you know you'll never be able to pay of debt even with 5 lifetimes, its hard not to want to die.

Anonymous said...

250000 in debt from optometry school and undergraduate. Had an episode of panic attack last month and now for the first time in my life diagnosed with depression taking Xanax and antidepressants. Every morning I think about the increasing interest on my loan of 1500 a month I make about 4250 post tax a month. Everyday I think about suicide the only thing holding me back are my parents who will be completely devastated and I just dont want them to go through that. However the daily pain I feel is becoming unbearable I can't function normally and have already lost 15 lbs this month. I think about going to the shooting range or driving off a cliff everyday it's a very sad situation to be in. Lets hope we all make it through.

Anonymous said...

250000 in debt from optometry school and undergraduate. Had an episode of panic attack last month and now for the first time in my life diagnosed with depression taking Xanax and antidepressants. Every morning I think about the increasing interest on my loan of 1500 a month I make about 4250 post tax a month. Everyday I think about suicide the only thing holding me back are my parents who will be completely devastated and I just dont want them to go through that. However the daily pain I feel is becoming unbearable I can't function normally and have already lost 15 lbs this month. I think about going to the shooting range or driving off a cliff everyday it's a very sad situation to be in. Lets hope we all make it through.

Anonymous said...

In September, I'm starting my "bright college career" at UCLA. The tuition there is about 12K and housing is about 14K. Coupled with extra fees, the total cost of attendance is about 32K. My parents make just over 100K and we are supposedly able to dish out a third of our income every year for four years. They, whoever it is that decides who deserves grant money, don't realize that my parents have a new mortgage, a new auto loan, a crap credit score, and no back up plan. Scholarships dismiss me and the government has left me hanging. I've always known that I would have to live with debt. I've known exactly how much it takes to graduate from university ever since I could remember. It has consumed my life. It is a matter of pride, survival, and longing that I cannot escape. My father exasperates things when he treats my potential debt as a leash. When I turned eighteen, he came into my room and said "You need to get a job and you need to figure out how to get 32K by July of this year." Those were not his exact words. The smokes made it sound that way in his head, I'm sure. I don't know how to get 32K ready any more than the next guy. I'd been cutting for years prior to this, but this year really made it hit home. My scars, however, aren't visible. I gouge, rather than cut. I use push pins, mechanical pencils, crochet needles, safety pins, and even the occasional paper clip-anything that is nearby while my dad rattles off debt after debt. The method doesn't scar as conspicuously and the marks left behind resemble burns. Burns are easy to explain. There is no blood to clean up, only the pain to keep hidden away. They are localized to my left arm that is already conveniently disfigured and nobody suspects a thing. I call it "the smart cutter". I don't even know what college is like or how anything works. I only know the numbers and that they hurt. Wanting so bad to know what college is-what it is that I've spent all this time working towards-hurts even more because I don't know if I can stick it out for that long. When I hurt myself, the debt seems so far away, a welcome distraction. It reminds me that real pain like the kind that I inflict upon myself is much closer and much worse than the abstract pain that is inflicted upon me by my emotions and I can go on for a few more days. Other people are endureing this "real" pain and have better reasons to off themselves. Recently, however, suicide has been looking more and more like a viable option. It feels like the logical next step. If things don't pan out and I default on my loans and this whole shitty journey wasn't worth anything, why keep it up? I know how I'd do it and I know how to prevent failure at all costs. Suicide is illegal where I come from and I can't afford to fail. More debt, however, just doesn't solve the problem. It's funny, really, I try to kill myself over student loan debt and the state just screws me over again with criminal charges, which, just makes me want to try again. A part of me just wants to end it now so that I'll die with the satisfaction that I got in to college in the first place-before the loans are ever approved. I hate the way this country handles education. It may be free for the first twelve years, but it drops you off a cliff if you really want to make something of yourself. The worst part of it all is that I'm too smart to admit that I'm ready to break. Cutting just isn't "intelligent" behavior. It's not the correct way to solve your problems. I lost that battle with myself six years ago when I told myself that the only way I'd be able to sleep at night and hold my head up in the morning is if I hurt myself and kept it to myself. I'll see how the next few months go and decide for myself if I'm going to make it to the other side. I need to get out of my head.-Anon

Tiffany Gholar said...

According to Freudian theories, suicide is "murder in the 180th degree." As the years drag on and student loan debtors continue to get no relief or recourse from the powers that be, I can't help but wonder if someday things will escalate to murder suicides and mass shootings at some of these lending agencies.

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Anonymous said...

Yes. Every day. The only thing that keeps me from doing so is because then my parents would have to keep paying my loans after I was dead.