Thursday, December 16, 2010

Debt And Suicide: Interview On Shared Sacrifice

Yesterday evening I was interviewed by Matt Stannard at Shared Sacrifice. Our focus was student loan debt and suicide. If you weren't able to tune in last night, you can listen to the recording here.

Thanks again, Matt and Shared Sacrifice!


Nando said...

Great interview. You had lots of poise. And thank you for the plug.

I am glad that you mentioned that the diploma mills prey on minorities and desperate people. I also agree with your assessment that Obama has been a disappointment.

Here is a take on Obama, from progressive cartoonist "Tom Tomorrow":

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.

Cryn Johannsen said...

It's not too late. Please do not take your life.

Anonymous said...


Just hang on, and the feeling will pass.

I lived in silence about my debt for many years,
It is now 300 thousand, and is so far out of reach it is surreal.

It broke up my marriage. My-e was terrified of the debt and many times she would wake up at 3AM terribly worried.
Her family-my ex-in-laws really came to hate me and look at me as a great big loser. And that's the way I felt.

Can you get on IBR?
Quite frankly, default might make you eligible for IBR. it was for me.

But I have no co-signers.

And I feel the same way about my dog. I think many dogs out there (and cats) are keeping debtors like us alive.

There was a comment on Cryn's blog. Not sure where but fairly recent, that talks about how a granmother is getting collection calls in a nursing home because she was a co-signer.

That story surely has to illustrate how really sick the industry is by now.

I mean totally disgusting and sick.

So don't blame yourself or despair.

Anonymous said...

Cryn, I listened to your interview and cried for hours. I graduated from law school with honors back in 2003 and never found a job as an attorney. I've worked a bunch of odd jobs the last 7 years just to survive. I've been a retail worker, a call center worker, a housekeeper, a dishwasher, and a temp - seriously, it seems like I've been everything except what I went to school for! I know my life is ruined and that I will never be a practicing attorney. I get it, really I do. After all, I'm around attorneys 24/7 in my current job and they look down their noses at me or else just ignore me. I am a loser and no one wants to be around a loser or else they might become one to. I try to remind myself that my life wasn't always like this - that people used to like me and that I had a lot going for me in college and even law school. However, after years of being snubbed and treated so terribly, I have learned to be as invisible as possible and to keep to myself. I'm sure that gives everyone at work a good laugh - then they can say I'm anti-social or not good with people and therefore not attorney material.

I could live without being a practicing attorney but what I can't get over is the fact I ruined my life by borrowing $100,000 to go to law school. I thought I was making a really good investment in myself because I believed in myself back then. I knew I would do well in school, and I guess I thought I would get a job and be able to pay back my loans. How incredibly wrong I turned out to be. Even if I am able to get out of student loan debt, I will be starting over from scratch. Zero savings. Zero retirement. Zero career options.

Every day I think about jumping out the 27th floor window of the office building where I am currently working to escape the mess I have made of my life. I am in so deep now, there is no way out. I used to keep myself up at night thinking about how I would ever pay my student loans off, but now I keep myself up at night, wondering if this is really how the next 30 years of my life will be - always moving from one dead-end job to the next, always being looked down at by attorneys (and even non-attorneys when they find out I'm an attorney but not working as one), always feeling so sick to my stomach that I can't hardly even eat anymore. I used to worry about starving to death if I couldn't afford to buy food if I never found a job, but now I don't have to worry about that because I have no appetite! Maybe I will just wither away and finally be put out of my misery. I really don't think I can keep doing this for another 7 years, let alone the rest of my life. I don't know what to do. While I haven't completely given up, I don't think it's that far around the corner...

I'm sorry this is long and depressing, but it's nice to get this all out. I am not asking anyone to forgive my student loans; I fully intend to pay back every last cent I borrowed. I just want to feel like all of my hard work and sacrifice was worth it, instead of always feeling humiliated, embarassed, ashamed, bitter and angry. I'm so tired of feeling this way - I just want the pain to go away. Thanks for listening.

Cryn Johannsen said...

I will always be here to listen. I've posted your story. It takes a lot of guts to share, and to me, you are not invisible. Your story was so compelling and eloquently written, I turned it into a post. See here:

suzanne hickman said...

‎1st) is there someone near who you can talk to? please do nothing until you have vented with an understanding friend.
2) you are here for a reason...none of us know what it is till the moment...and sometimes not even then...sometimes becaus...e you smiled at the lonely person on the sidewalk, they decide to try one more day. you have saved a life. you can't know how many times this has happened. please, stay awhile longer and see if things change?
3) if it's still a no go (in another 6 mos) then reevaluate...but please...wait. give it just alittle while. and in theat little while talk with someone. if you have no to me. here on facebook. please. give it just a bit more time. what can i do?
sometimes we are forced to shed a skin...rather than grow a shell. sometimes we morph into a life we would never have considered until the obstacles hit. look closely into the moment you have yet to see.....stuff is is NOTHING...but the ability to utilize a new moment in a new way....well that's priceless.
PLEASE.....take a step back...tomorrow might just surprise the heck out of you! or not. but you will have the greatest choice there create a new life from scratch. pretty soon we will all be living alot are merely ahead of the curve.
suzanne hickman

Anonymous said...

@ 3:46

You said: "you are here for a reason"

Damn that made me cry. I feel like such a worthless indebted piece of shit all day and every day.

Most of the time I don't know why I even bother getting up in the morning.

All the thousands of hours of study in law school, and the countless examinations lasting 4 or more hours. A diploma at the end that didn't prepare me for anything except a lifetime of shame and disgrace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for opening the door to this dialogue. I hope that it continues to grow and include the voices of thousands who are in bondage to student debt. I just had a brief stay in the psych. ward due to overwhelming depression. Yes, I do have clinical depression, but my student loan debt has brought on a new kind of despair, a "just go ahead and shoot me" feeling. Shame an disgrace are impossibly debilitating feelings to suffer on a daily basis. I am praying, going to an income-based counselor, and taking one day a time. And ignoring the collections calls for the time being.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Dec 21 You're welcome. I hope that the voices of those who are struggling will continue to come out. I am sorry to hear that you were recently in the hospital, but I think it takes a lot of courage to say that here. It's good to hear that you have a counselor, too. Don't give up. We must overcome this problem. Take care of yourself. -Cryn

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone. I'm a 25 y.o. college grad working two jobs for minimum wage and living at home. I think I'm going to be stuck with my student loan debt forever too.

You guys have nothing to be ashamed of. It might not help but you're not alone. I wish I could buy you a cup of coffee and chat with you, because I know there is more to you than this debt.

There's more to all of us than debt, but sometimes it feels like we won't have a chance to offer any of it.

Thanks to this blogger for giving us a place to relate to each other.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@ Dec 21 2010 10:57 AM, thanks for your note. I wish you could grab a cup of coffee with these debtors, too. That's why I want more people to get involved with this issue in their local communities. We need to be talking about this publicly!

Anonymous said...

This may be too late to post, but I thought I'd mention that there are people trying to change this. If you go to, there is a list of e-mails of ppl to write. We can find others also in debt in our area.

We shd all come together and fight this! If enough of us put pressure on the govt we can change this. I believe a college education should be free for low-income ppl. It's ridiculous that loans are offered as a form of financial aid.

I'd like to commit suicide, but, sadly, can't bring myself to do it. I wish I cd as I truly have nothing to live for. Suicide truly wd solve my problems. I don't even have a family and have few friends as I can't afford to socialize. I'm living in poverty, can't use my talents and skills. I feel I'm going to waste. It's really sad.

But I'm finding hope in activism. If enough of us can just stay alive and stick together I think we can change this. Please, everyone go to and get involved so we can change this!