Sunday, August 14, 2011

Suicides and Student Loan Debt

In July of 2008, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a piece entitled, "Suicide Spreads as One Solution to the Debt Crisis."  The article touched upon the housing crash, and  Ehrenreich highlighted several cases in which people took their lives when they knew they were losing their homes.

Ehrenreich discusses shoot-outs in the past, but these incidents often entailed groups of men barricading themselves in their homes and fighting it out with the cops. In recent history, however, people have been turning the barrel of the gun towards themselves. "Suicide," Ehrenreich explains, "is becoming an increasingly popular response to debt."

We need to have a national discussion about student loan debtors who have taken their lives. I already know of three individuals who, in part, committed suicide in response to owing student loans; they felt there was no way out.

A few weeks ago, and on the same day, I learned about two individuals who committed suicide. One told a connection of mine that her niece recently took her life after she had received a bank statement that detailed the amount of student loan debt she owed. While the reasons for why people commit suicide are complex, and there is not one cause for carrying out such an act, it is important to understand and discuss it on a sociologically level. On the same day that I learned of these two suicides, I spoke to a woman in L.A. who told me, "I am at the end of my rope." She too was suicidal. We talked for nearly two hours, and I brought up Ehrenreich's work.

"It's not irrational to make this decision," I said. "Many people make the wrong assumption that it is. That's false."

She agreed, and said, "it's not irrational. It's a logical conclusion." Before we got off the phone, she assured me that she wasn't there . . . yet . . . but she understands why people make the decision.

That said, I do not condone the decision, even though I understand why people are driven to do it.

[Note: If you are feeling suicidal, please seek immediate help. Tell people you trust, and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)]

Having learned about these recent suicides, I am now concerned that more people are taking their lives and not turning to outlets such as the National Suicide Prevent Lifeline, AEM, etc., etc. for help. It is one thing to express suicidal ideations - many of us have done that - but it is another to outline a plan and carry through with it. Rest assured, when people express suicidal thoughts, I take that very seriously. But I am now wondering how many student loan debtors have gone through with it.

Interestingly, more of you would probably be dead if you didn't have co-signers. It's almost as if the student lenders devised this entangled, financial relationship with a family member or friend to use it as ransom. Now that's sick. I can't begin to tell you how many times someone has said, "If it weren't for my [insert family member's name here], I would have been dead long ago. But I can't leave them with the responsibility of paying my debt."

I know that things are worsening, that many of you are homeless, working as escorts, etc. But your life has a tremendous amount of meaning, and we need you here - with us - to fight back.

We also must overcome our shame about the subject of suicide, and openly discuss it. Individuals who are suicidal, or who have committed suicide, are not crazy.

I have tremendous sympathy for people who are struggling  in this way, or who have taken their lives and left loved ones behind, but Ehrenreich makes a good point, stating:

Dry your eyes, already: Death is an effective remedy for debt, along with anything else that may be bothering you too. And try to think of it too from a lofty, corner-office, perspective: If you can't pay your debts or afford to play your role as a consumer, and if, in addition -- like an ever-rising number of Americans -- you're no longer needed at the workplace, then there's no further point to your existence. I'm not saying that the creditors, the bankers and the mortgage companies actually want you dead, but in a culture where one's credit rating is routinely held up as a three-digit measure of personal self-worth, the correct response to insoluble debt is in fact, "Just shoot me!"
We have a dark sense of humor when it comes to discussing suicide. It's not nearly as dark an attitude as the Koreans have. For instance, kids used to take their little fingers and drag them across their necks like a little knife, and make a 'scccccccrrrrch' sound, when they did poorly on vocab quizzes). But this black humor is part of our weapon against an untimely, unnecessary death. We need to be honest about it, while keeping it at a safe distance. Those who have already exited the world don't have that privilege, nor do the loved ones they left behind.


Related Links


"Suicide and Murder-Suicides," AEM (Jan 30, 2011)

Debt and Suicide (Radio interview with Shared Sacrifice; originally aired 16 December 2010)

Suicide Among Student Debtors - Who's Thought About It? (17 August 2010)

For The Indentured Class, Suicidal Thoughts Are Not Merely An Individual Problem (22 October 2010)

An Angry Mother Vents (4 October 2010)


Other Related Links:

99ers band together to save a life (27 January 2010)

Suicide Rates Up Since Recession Began, Debt A 'Way of Life' For 99ers (26 July 2010)

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Desperate Times and Desperate Measures (28 January 2009)

The Economic Crisis Is Getting Bloody - Violent Deaths Are Now Following Evictions, Foreclosures, and Job Losses (20 November 2009)







44 comments:

Accipiter said...

Whenever I mention to people that there are only two ways out of student loan debt - total disability or death - they usually say I'm being overdramatic. However, it's true - the only way I can escape this debt is to either become paralyzed or die, and that's a terrible way to live your life, knowing those are your only ways out.

There is no 'well just pay it.' These same people who scoff at the two-ways-out seem to think you can just 'work harder.' This isn't the 1950s. This is 2011, and the jobs either aren't there, or they don't pay enough for us to survive.

Looking at it from a logical standpoint, death IS the most logical way out. The alternative is living under bridges, and as a 26 year old woman, that is a very dangerous life for me.

JDpainterguy said...

Well Cryn, you have probably seem my set of poems about suicide and student loan debt here:

http://esquirepainting.blogspot.com/2011/07/law-schoolstudent-debt-suicide-fantasy.html

I do turn this stuff all over in my mind, and the peoms are the result of many years of this type of thinking.

Oh I don't know, it is therapeutic to make up the jingles, and as you say, it is different from stating an actual intent to kill myself over my debt.

Sometimes I wonder what my outlook would be, were it not for the more than tripled student loan debt, and if I had never gone to Law School in the first place.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

JDPainterGuy - I was talking to one of our mutual friends about you recently. We were saying how funny and talented and creative you are . . . and then the question came up, "What would he be like without that crushing debt?" I asked my husband the same thing about you later that day, and added, "imagine what he could be doing. He's so funny and interesting. It's a tragedy, an absolute tragedy that he has so much debt."

For insights into this, listen to this English comedian discuss student loan debt, and why he think they put it in place (hail to Thatcher, Reagan - the ruling a---holes of Neoliberalism!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDEZ2h41t0I&feature=fvwrel

I am going to write about his points later.

Alexandra said...

C Cryn - thanks for reminding me that my thinking is not irrational. No really, good article. I'm not there yet either, but when I have really bad mornings, for instance, when i let it slip to my boss (i currently work on a farm for $400 a month and room and board and when my job ends in a month or so don't know where I'll go), how much i owe, and i REMEMBER oh yeah, I'm really screwed, well, those are bad mornings. The only way I can function at this point is to work myself into a stupor so i can sleep, but i'm not making enough and my prospects feel really dim right now, and having only a brother left who really doesn't want to know much about my life unless i have fabulous news (oh, got married, have a brilliant job, doing greatttt!!!), i am getting used to considering myself an itinerant migrant farm worker whose body is breaking down with a graduate degree in creative writing. Maybe Obama will have a job for me soon. Yea.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Alexandra - thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hate hearing that you're in this situation, and that you work yourself into a stupor to survive. Rest assured, you are not alone. When you're through with this job, do you really not have any options or a safety net? How can we, as a community of debtors, help you? Do you think you'll find work after you're through with this current job? I'll try to help in any way possible. Shoot me an email (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com).

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Alexandra - not that you don't know, but I want to be clear. This isn't about "hand-outs" or offering you "charity." I want to help you network - if that's what you would like and if that's what you think might be helpful.

JDpainterguy said...

Hi Cryn:

In your 11:52Am comment you had a link to a film clip.

I saw it.

The sentiments expressed by the man somehow made me think of Thomas Hardy's novel: Jude The Obscure.

Jude Fawley had scholarly ambition, for its own sake, but was thwarted by his lack of financial means to enter the Universitiy.

And so Jude continued his work as a stone mason, and studied when and where he could.

I see Jude Fawley as an odd sort of mirror image to all that we discuss on our blogs.

Today, the money/means that Juse sought, in the form of student loans, is there, but the result is the same:

Thwarted ambition.

Strange.

BitterrootWire said...

I work three jobs, and I suffer from insomnia and anxiety. I've thought about taking my life over and over again. It takes three jobs to barely make the payments on my student debt. My dad even took out an insurance policy on my life just in case I died and the loan that he co-signed on was settled on him. I am now worth more dead than alive. ...I'm tired.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@BitterrootWire - thanks for having the courage to share with us. Hang in there! Reach out to friends and family who care. Call the suicide hotline. We're all going to get through this. It's tough, but we'll survive, and come out on the other end - we'll be STRONGER.

If you want to talk, please send me an email (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com). I am happy to be available.

Dona Furiosa said...

Five friends and acquaintances of mine have committed suicide, though none over student debt. And I've contemplated it, though for other reasons.

I'm not a therapist or counselor, but I know that people commit suicide when they feel that their lives are hopeless, there is simply no way to make them better and that if anyone is in control of their fates, it is not themselves. And they feel unwanted, unneeded or unloved.

JD, add me to the list of people who finds you funny, interesting and talented. (Those are the real reasons I read your blog.) And Alexandra and Bitterrot, anyone who's thought of suicide and chosen not to go through with it has learned some important lessons. They are not only valuable for everyone else; they can make you a better and stronger person. You may still have thoughts of suicide, but at least you can answer them.

And if you are thinking about suicide, don't let anyone tell you you're being overdramatic. Nobody would tell you that if you mentioned that you have cancer. And, really, suicidal depression is to the mind and spirit what cancer is to the body. It's there, but you can live with and through it.

Besides, do you really want that debt to win out?

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Dona - that's a wonderful response - very moving. Thanks for fighting with us!

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

I should say, Dona, thanks for being on the right side of this enormous battle. We're just getting warmed up.

Capt. Bat Guano said...

Look into this student loan related program, it may offer a way out for some

Capt. Bat Guano said...

Oops, forgot the linky

http://www.ibrinfo.org/what.vp.html

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Capt. Bat Guano -

Thanks for posting a link to IBR. I've written about that repayment program quite a bit (I know the architects behind it). My recent piece about it was written in June. See: http://alleducationmatters.blogspot.com/2011/06/borrower-receives-misinformation-about.html

Aleena said...

This seems to be a great site which offers Legal Debt Solutions, Loan Modification Services, Loan Modification, Bankruptcy Attorney, Debt Negotiation Services, Loan Modification Process, loan modification testimonials, legal debt solutions, legal debt solutions law firm etc. and i would surely like to try their service...i had been relying on http://www.stopbanks.com earlier and they too offered good stuff.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Aleena - thanks for your comment. I want my readers to be aware that I am not an expert in the area of solving personal debt problems. So, Aleena's post does not suggest I share her opinions about these links.

Liz said...

I considered suicide. I know I really don't have a future. I'm aware that the only hope out of this mess is to "start over" with reincarnation. I have 150k minimum in student loans. I have been looking daily for jobs. Can't believe they don't want a degree'd person to flip burgers...Can anyone tell my WHY I'm still not wanted?

My loans will crush me, and I have no job as to pay the forbearance fees(Sallie Mae fees 150 PER LOAN OUT, Federal is free, Credit Union it depends).

I've literally decided if I can't get a job by February(That covers Federal, Sallie Mae AND Credit Union loans) I will just kill myself on valentine's day...now how do you make it look like an accident? I've heard "accidental" deaths are more likely to get the loans discharged.

As a graphic designer I am deeply offended that anyone would say I deserve this. I deserve much more then a shitty lie of a life with no future to show for it.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

@Liz, your testimonial breaks my heart. You do deserve better, and you should be dealing with such crushing debt. It's bullshit. Hang in there. I'm sure it's not much consolation, but you're not alone.

I'm posting your comments as a follow-up to this piece.

Anonymous said...

My son absolutely chose to end his life, in part due to student loan debt. Even though I told him that I'd help him with it. He had decided that he couldn't stay in school after a break-up, and researched that the type of loans he had would be forgiven in death, after lamenting that he felt guilty and awful about us having debt for his schooling. I think he though in a way that he was helping us. But we are just heartbroken-I would have gladly paid that debt and worked into my 80s in exchange for having him here and alive.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Anonymous 8:53 PM - this was a painful comment to read, and my heart goes out to you and your family. What a terrible loss. Words can't begin to convey how sorry I am to hear this from you.

If you are willing and ready, I'd like to speak by phone. Feel free to email me if you wish (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com).

I am going to share this with my readers.

-Cryn

Anonymous said...

I have contemplated suicide over my student debt. I keep a bottle of pills next to my bed.

I lost my job (layoff) a year ago, can no longer forbear, and really don't see any way out. The only thing keeping me from doing it at this point is the thought that it would hurt my parents.

I don't really see any way out and think it is probably just a matter of time to be honest.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am over it. A single mother of two, we were just scraping by when a bad bacterial infection left me unable to work. Within 2 months, we lost our house, our car, and our possessions. I was working on rehabilitation with Sallie Mae and had filled out the "hardship paperwork", but I discovered today that they confiscated my tax refund anyway. That was my last bit of hope. We are living in the airport, and that money was going to give us a second chance. I know now that I must consider suicide. To those who tell me that I am being selfish, I say that they have never experienced soul-crushing despair. I have reached out, and there is no help available.

Anonymous said...

You should call 1-800 suicide if you feel there's no way out. They can help you figure a way out of your predicament. LOL Just kidding. If you do call keep in mind they will send an ambulance and cops. Get ready to be humiliated in front of your neighbors. You get to wear thin pajamas with no underwear and be locked up in the mental ward of the hospital. Prepare to be drugged. Amply drugged. No fun stuff...mainly anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. You will meet some VERY interesting people in there. Some of them transferred from county jail. Maybe one of them will sleep in the same room as you. After a few days of excruciating boredom and/or fear they wheel you out the door. No phone call...no ride home...youre on your own again. The main difference is...you just got $30,000 MORE DEBT! But not to worry! That social worker in the hospital taught you some great breathing/meditation techniques to deal with stress.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the last comment is true. My crushing debt is from the pursuit of a PhD in clinical psych. I entered my grad program already a successful person and director at a non-profit making good money, but I felt I needed to do more as I was seeing such horrific mental illnesses caused in the juvenile justice and foster care systems, the focus of my non-profit work. It was like buying at the top of the market in housing, every year increases in tuition and no way out. I made sacrifices that cost me my beautiful life, home and everything else for a degree that is worth not even half of the work or the cost of getting it. Plus the 1700 hours of free work I did for training, most of it working on an acute psychiatric ward, So I can tell you that yes, telling someone you are suicidal will cause them to lock you up in a hellish situation surrounded by psychotic and perhaps dangerous patients. You will lose what dignity you have left. They have to drug you up with dangerous medications, and you cannot object. In fact if you continue to feel suicidal, they can involuntarily force you to undergo ECT. Because of course you must be crazy to want to kill yourself, it isn't a reasonable solution to a debt that will hound you every day of your life that you can never escape. Actually one of the biggest risks for suicide is just being released from one of these places and yes, a big bill to "save your life" so you can somehow now try to regain your sanity and self respect and find some way to pay sallie mae will be forthcoming. I hate to say it, but suicide is a rational choice for some with this oppressive debt in this sick country.

A Terrified Law Student said...

I found this entry while researching for a blog entry I was going to post. Lately I have found myself waking up in the night, not able to go back to sleep. Not over student loan debt, which is scary, but over the idea of having wasted 10 years of my life to go to school. As a result, I will struggle probably for the rest of my life just to get by. It's a horrible thought, and one that has consumed me. I don't think I will ever kill myself due to debt or monetary matters. But sometimes the thoughts linger in my head, and I feel deep depression over the idea of even playing with the idea.

Anonymous said...

The general public doesn't understand how crushing and demoralizing student loan debt is. Somehow its your fault of wanting a better life and doing it in the heavily prescribed manner. I exist and am fortunate to have family that cares, but the debt and unreasonable financial burdens it creates means I don't have a life. I do not have many experiences that make me feel like I have my own life. There is no way out and it forces me into cyclical patterns of depression where the realization of how unmanageable my student loan debt is leads me to think of how corrupt our educational system/government/financial leaders are in order to perpetuate such a cannibalistic system and I feel even less hope for my future and get further depressed. I fight to maintain hope and do a lot of reading to try and stay inspired to succeed but the reality is that I think of killing myself all the time and I don't feel ashamed about it because I think it is a normal response when humans feel that there is absolutely no solution available to them. In fact, the concept of suicide to relieve physical pain is so accepted that it is pervasive in our media (i.e. films) and is even practiced as medicine by some doctors. You can sign an order to not resuscitate and that is socially acceptable. Somehow for the anguish and pain that comes with facing a destitute and hopeless lifestyle when all you wanted to do was improve your life, suicide is not accepted. I could go on....I wish everyone who is experiencing this crippling pain a quick change of fortune, a miracle, some hope and extend my sympathy. I did my research on my insurance policy, I can leave this place when it gets to be too much for me (probably soon).

John Calvin said...

I already have a plan to die. I know when and where. It is somewhat related to student loan debt, but the real reason is that I am bored.

Anonymous said...

I also went back to school at age 49 to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. I thought it would be a way to use my gifts to help others as well as have a good life and be able to continue working at least part time for the rest of my life. I won't go into the details, but my life is totally destroyed because of my student loans

I am paying on my federal consolidated loans as well as 3 co-signed private loans and am current. However I have 3 other private loans that I cannot pay the full amount due. Sallie Mae will not work with me to make a payment plan that I could actually afford .

So in a month, those loans will default and the fees will make an already unpayable debt a nightmare. I figure I have about a year to go until my wages are garnished. Since I already pay 25% of my income on loans, when they garnish my wages for another 25% I will then no longer be able to pay the loans I am current on...so all my loans will be in default.

Basically my life is over then. I've paid life insurance for years that will at least cover the co-signed loans. If I get disabled first, since I have a chronic illness now, I will have to commit suicide right away so fees don't blow those loans to an amount over what my insurance will cover.

I am hopeless and have such a sense of shame. Intellectually I understand all the socioeconomic factors and cultural myths which have created this mess, but in the end there is no way out and no one to help me.

Anonymous, you are totally correct about what will happen if you end up in the psych ward. Sometimes I wonder what suicidal patients must have felt when I was the consulting psychologist trying to help them find solutions when they were in despairing and hopeless situations. I remember one elderly couple who both tried to committ suicide in the same day due to economic hardship.

So, I have my plan, I just don't know the day yet. I have so much to offer the world but I cannot destroy my co-signer's lives because of my mistakes. I will have to pay the price...as many have done throughout the ages when they were trapped by powerful social forces beyond their ability to change.

I am so sad that 10 years of hard work and hope have brought me to this abyss. I feel likemtherenis a brand onmy forehead, much like the scarlet letter..."student loan debtor"...loser, fool, pariah, leper...the scum of the earth. This is the power that lenders like sallie Mae have...to destroy psychologically, emotionally, economically....literally.

Our blood is on the hands of the greedy, evil lenders and schools...the earth will sob in grief as our blood flows across it...yes, the suicides (the MURDERS) will cry to the heavens...to a god that is not there...to the deaf ears of corporations.

Yet maybe the day will come, just as in all revolutions, that the waste of humanity and great, heaving grief, will bring a new era of hope and justice for those whose only crime was to seek goodness and knowledge...they just didn't know the game was rigged until it was too late...

Anonymous said...

I also went back to school at age 49 to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. I thought it would be a way to use my gifts to help others as well as have a good life and be able to continue working at least part time for the rest of my life. I won't go into the details, but my life is totally destroyed because of my student loans

I am paying on my federal consolidated loans as well as 3 co-signed private loans and am current. However I have 3 other private loans that I cannot pay the full amount due. Sallie Mae will not work with me to make a payment plan that I could actually afford .

So in a month, those loans will default and the fees will make an already unpayable debt a nightmare. I figure I have about a year to go until my wages are garnished. Since I already pay 25% of my income on loans, when they garnish my wages for another 25% I will then no longer be able to pay the loans I am current on...so all my loans will be in default.

Basically my life is over then. I've paid life insurance for years that will at least cover the co-signed loans. If I get disabled first, since I have a chronic illness now, I will have to commit suicide right away so fees don't blow those loans to an amount over what my insurance will cover.

I am hopeless and have such a sense of shame. Intellectually I understand all the socioeconomic factors and cultural myths which have created this mess, but in the end there is no way out and no one to help me.

Anonymous, you are totally correct about what will happen if you end up in the psych ward. Sometimes I wonder what suicidal patients must have felt when I was the consulting psychologist trying to help them find solutions when they were in despairing and hopeless situations. I remember one elderly couple who both tried to committ suicide in the same day due to economic hardship.

So, I have my plan, I just don't know the day yet. I have so much to offer the world but I cannot destroy my co-signer's lives because of my mistakes. I will have to pay the price...as many have done throughout the ages when they were trapped by powerful social forces beyond their ability to change.

I am so sad that 10 years of hard work and hope have brought me to this abyss. I feel like there is a brand on my forehead, much like the scarlet letter..."student loan debtor"...loser, fool, pariah, leper...the scum of the earth. This is the power that lenders like Sallie Mae have...to destroy psychologically, emotionally, economically....literally.

Our blood is on the hands of the greedy, evil lenders and schools...the earth will sob in grief as our blood flows across it...yes, the suicides (the MURDERS) will cry to the heavens...to a god that is not there...to the deaf ears of corporations.

Yet maybe the day will come, just as in all revolutions, when the waste of humanity and great, heaving grief, will bring a new era of hope and justice for those whose only crime was to seek goodness and knowledge...they just didn't know the game was rigged until it was too late...

Angie said...

Hello, my name is Angela Smith. I have just recently created a petition with regards to student loans and here is the link:

http://signon.org/sign/demolish-payments-owed

I have shared my story on there and I have left my email address so that people can send me their stories...no matter what they are. I will forward them to my State Senator. As Americans, we cannot rely the government...but we must rely on each other. I sent out an email to everyone on my email list and this is one response I got back. Keep in mind I went back to college after working for 20 years.










Magdalene Morrissey wrote:
> You should know better than anyone that it's your responsibility to take
> care of yourself. Why did you get a degree in something that wasn't
> marketable? You're so staunchly conservative, but you take advantage of
> socialist programs like disability. Your emails are abusive to people on
> welfare, but you are no better. Why do you deserve a free education? Why
> do you deserve for me to support you? One of the most successful aspects of
> Obama's presidency is how much he's done to end abuse by banks and
> creditors, yet you don't appreciate that. I honestly respected your opinion
> a lot more when I thought you were just a wacked out conservative, now I
> know you're just a bum.

Names and email address changed to protect.


Its remarks like this that push people over the edge, instead of realizing. "Oh this is the reason behind her emails about politics".

I implore you as a fellow American Citizen to copy and paste my petition...sorry, our petition, contact your state senator with it, your state congress. lets speak out. Its the only way things can be changed. Please share! Be active, we can change things if we work together!

Anonymous said...

This is Angie, who had got the petition going. I want everyone to know that I wrote my Senator...thats why they are elected with my concerns and problems. I showed some proof of burden. I must have made a remark on him with my story, forwarded my information about my student loans. I told him all about the harrassment from the collection agencies and Sallie Mae. Sign the petition that was created and posted on here. I implore you to make your voice heard. If you do not have access to a computer, a local library will let you have unlimited access to use one for free, they will also provide you with pen and paper if need be. You can send email from there. COntact your State officials, your senator. Suicide is not a solution, although I have read that many have taken that route because they have been made to believe that is the only decision. Please speak out....It takes many voices from everywhere to speak out. Contact, contact, contact. Give them your contact information where you can be reached. I promise you that if enough people reach out, results will happen. When I sent out the petition, I endured a lot of abuse from people I emailed it too. Mostly I got those responses back because they do not walk in our shoes. That email was enough to send any person who is distraught over the burden of Student loans over the edge. Instead I chose to get on the computer and I spend days...yes days....writing to any goverment official that I could find the email address to...sometimes you have to do some creative research to find their email addresses. I told them my story...about "our" petition. I worked on this intil my eyes hurt and were bloodred and bloodshot.

Please ignore the mean comments people make about people who cannot pay back student loans, please do not go down that road...its only a longterm solution to a temporary problem. The owner of this blog has provided the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)]

We have rights and I am about to post some that many creditors just as Sallie Mae and their creditors break the law....they cross the line and they have not right to. Please read my next post for those rights that you have and how debt collectors break them.

Regardless of your religion or status, I say bless each and everyone of you...lets bond together and work together. Thats how we as Americans change laws and thats the way America was built. Read my list of how creditors break the law.
A

Anonymous said...

Now, if you find yourself in this situation and this will take some homework and a lot of patience. Call the Bar association of your State and ask them about attorneys who deal with harrassments from collection agencies
*gather all the information that you can about your case...documents, letters...record calls if you can...or make a call log with phone records if possible with what was said and if possible who said it
*ANY information that you can gather..original documents that you signed for the loan...these can be optained from your college...you may have to tell them its extremely important...or in my case..my attorney wants them.
If you feel like you have been wronged by student loans and collection agencies...and trust me this has been going on a lot in this economy, finding a lawyer..can be tough, but it can be done. When you find one, do all that he asks of you...everything or he will not be able to help you.

Research, know your rights...gather facts.

Sign the petition and pass it on...spread the word and the information I have provided here. Implore everyone who is suffering to aggressively write their Senators..if they cannot help you, ask them who will listen....who can I write. Write any politician that you can get the address to....someone will listen and proactively help. Especially if you are feeling pushed to the point of no return...remember as I have said above...you have rights.

PLEASE NOTE: One thing I did find out was that private loans do not hold much more power than a credit card debt...only it cannot be discharged through a bankruptcy. They cannot stay on your credit no more than 10 years. If they abuse you...record it, make a record of it...find an attorney who specializes in collection harrassments.

Most of all. MAKE your voice be heard anyway you can...that is why we elect people....because we ARE the GOVERNMENT...not the people in the White House....we are the voice and we must speak together.

Spread the word. I will put some email addresses of some of the states that surround me and I wish anyone else on here would do the same...

I want to close with this. I deeply appreciate the moderator of this blog....remember theres help out there. We just have to work together and reach out for it.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Thanks for your recent comments on Oct. 29th. This isn't just a blog - this is a non-profit that advocates for student loan debtors.

Also, I have written extensively on rights, attorneys, and so forth. It is important to keep in mind that attorneys do not always understand the laws that govern these loans, so be careful when seeking their advice.

-Cryn
Founder & Exec Dir.
All Education Matters

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting me post about this. This is something that I am going through at this very moment. You may have to go through dozens and dozens of attorneys until you find one that deals with this sort of issue. The more we speak out...I have a feeling the more attorneys will be educating themselves on theee rights and laws. The main thing is, the kind person who has started this blog is trying to get everyone help..because there is very little help out there. I will keep everyone updated as everything progresses.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from college in 94 with $19,000 in student loans. My degree in education never resulted in a job due to a DWI during my freshman year. I was never able to make payments other than the interest, so my principle never decreased. In 2002 I was unable to make minimum payments and due to a bone disease and poor choices, I began taking prescription pain meds. Eventually, I became addicted and in 2007, lost my job due to absences and another DUI ( for prescription meds). Suicide entered my mind daily. I didn't know where to get help. I was homeless in 2011 before getting into a drug treatment program. In 2012 I was awarded disability ( due for review in 2014), and have been able to get an apartment. However, I can barely pay my bills and cant afford to go anywhere. I cant even afford to see all of my doctors.For the past three months, the thoughts of suicide have increased and the depression is overwhelming! A monrh ago, I got a bill for over $39,000 from a collection agency! I have countless medical bills and I've quit opening bills altogether. My record and lack of training will probably prevent me from ever finding gainful employment. I'm almost 45 and I feel like my life is over. I stay in my apartment most of the time. I have very few friends and dont know what to do. I dont answer my door or phone. I know that I've made poor choices in my life, but this debt and my situation has rendered me hopeless.......

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 345 AM - I am very sorry to hear about your struggles. But please don't give up hope. I understand that you are overwhelmed and for good reason. I urge you to reach out to people you trust and discuss your issues. Please take care of yourself.

-Cryn
Founder & Executive Director
All Education Matters

Anonymous said...

I think of my loans as "the wheel that breaks the butterfly". It's a slow unnecessary painful death but eventually it kills.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. This article is so helpful to me in knowing that I am not alone. Over the past year I went from living in a posh apartment in the Washington D.C. suburbs to living in my old bedroom in my parents' tiny house. I've been struggling with my emotional and physical health. I've gained 30 pounds, and just plain stopped caring. I graduated with my Master's in International Relations and Global Security/Foreign Policy and an Certificate of Advanced study in International Security from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. I went from interning at National Defense University to bouncing around low-wage temp job to temp job and after one year I finally have a full-time job. Unfortunately, after taxes this only pays 26,000 per year. With my private student loans alone, I have about 5 dollars left each month after I pay my bills. It's a miserable life. Paying for gas with a credit card you have trouble paying just so you can make interest-only payments to sally me.

I had big plans, a vision, the Public Sector was always hiring! Remember during the beginning of the Recession the Public Sector was taking on waves of people? Well, over the past several years, the Federal Government, Defense in particular, has been on a stringent hiring freeze and thus my hopes are dashed. I wanted to service my country as a public servant (not to mention that after 10 years they write off your federal loans).

Now, I don't even know who I am anymore and think about suicide constantly. I'm on antidepressants but they don't stop the panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. I'm 25, and I haven't my own apartment, own a 2007 Chevrolet Coupe, and live in my parents' house. I will never be able to get married (who would marry someone with this much debt?) and I will probably not get out of my parents' house until I'm at least 30.

My job is processing medical claims for an insurance company. It has nothing to do with where my passions lie and has everything to do with working in an area I hate: big business and insurance companies whose sole motive is to expand profits at the expense of others.

So, no, it does not, will not, and cannot get better. Friends tell me that I need to stop living in the past. But, how can I stop living in the past when the past provides warm memories and the present and future a cold, dark, and never-ending abyss.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. This article is so helpful to me in knowing that I am not alone. Over the past year I went from living in a posh apartment in the Washington D.C. suburbs to living in my old bedroom in my parents' tiny house. I've been struggling with my emotional and physical health. I've gained 30 pounds, and just plain stopped caring. I graduated with my Master's in International Relations and Global Security/Foreign Policy and an Certificate of Advanced study in International Security from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. I went from interning at National Defense University to bouncing around low-wage temp job to temp job and after one year I finally have a full-time job. Unfortunately, after taxes this only pays 26,000 per year. With my private student loans alone, I have about 5 dollars left each month after I pay my bills. It's a miserable life. Paying for gas with a credit card you have trouble paying just so you can make interest-only payments to sally me.

I had big plans, a vision, the Public Sector was always hiring! Remember during the beginning of the Recession the Public Sector was taking on waves of people? Well, over the past several years, the Federal Government, Defense in particular, has been on a stringent hiring freeze and thus my hopes are dashed. I wanted to service my country as a public servant (not to mention that after 10 years they write off your federal loans).

Now, I don't even know who I am anymore and think about suicide constantly. I'm on antidepressants but they don't stop the panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. I'm 25, and I haven't my own apartment, own a 2007 Chevrolet Coupe, and live in my parents' house. I will never be able to get married (who would marry someone with this much debt?) and I will probably not get out of my parents' house until I'm at least 30.

My job is processing medical claims for an insurance company. It has nothing to do with where my passions lie and has everything to do with working in an area I hate: big business and insurance companies whose sole motive is to expand profits at the expense of others.

So, no, it does not, will not, and cannot get better. Friends tell me that I need to stop living in the past. But, how can I stop living in the past when the past provides warm memories and the present and future a cold, dark, and never-ending abyss.

Anonymous said...

I am literally one step away from ending my life.

I went to school to become a psychologist - I am deeply compassionate and wanted to help others, while having a career that would provide well for me (I grew up in near poverty and didn't want to live that way as an adult). Sadly, I made a HUGE mistake of going to a private grad school - mainly because I didn't think I could get into one of the highly competitive state schools where only 5 applicants out of 300 were accepted.

My goal was to have a private practice and I felt confident I could pay back the loans (which I considered very carefully). I worked all through school to pay for living expenses (unlike 95% of my classmates who didn't work). I was so proud when I finally completed my doctorate.

Sadly, depression due to 2 major losses derailed my life right in the midst of my residency - so, I had to delay licensure and was unable to get back on track 3 years later when I was doing better. Without a license, my career was doomed. I worked as long as I could until I knew I was going to be fired due to not being licensed.

At that point, I left the field altogether and hoped I could use my two grad degrees and 14+ years of professional experience elsewhere - but that didn't work out.

Life rapidly went downhill from there. My original student loan debt of $80K has more than tripled. My loans have all defaulted. I am still single at 52 - I stopped dating long ago because I felt no one would want someone who was saddled with so much debt with no means of paying it off.

5 years ago I did attempt suicide - and almost succeeded. Not a day goes by that I don't wish that I had. It wasn't a "cry for help" - I had every intention of dying that day. 11 months later I lost my home (eviction due to unpaid rent) and almost ended up homeless.

I'm completely alone and terrified. I live in a teeny tiny apartment and do freelance work to make ends meet, but due to my constant depression and anxiety (primarily due to the crushing debt and constant fear of losing my home again) make it very difficult for me to be productive.

This weekend I received a court summons - one of my student loan creditors is suing me. That's the last straw.

I have no future. No savings. I can't even pay taxes (and survive) on my current income. So, my tax debt is growing as well.

I know I will never have anything - a husband, children (too old for that now), a real home, a normal life - my dreams are dead. My career is dead. My future is not worth staying alive for. I don't have anyone here who needs me. I know the world won't even "blink" when I am gone.

I know I wouldn't feel suicidal if I didn't have all this crushing debt. It leaves me with no hope for the future, and causes me to live in constant fear. I’m worn out.

I thought an education was supposed to be an investment in my future - instead, it's become a death sentence.

It angers me that I have always been financially responsible - frugal, careful with my money, not living beyond my means. People who run up credit card debt or who take out mortgages on fancy homes they can't afford can declare bankruptcy and have a clean slate. But I can't do that.

Is suicide irrational? Not always. In my case (and many in my shoes) it's not a "permanent solution to a temporary problem" - there is nothing temporary about this crushing debt. It just keeps growing and growing - I'll never be able to make a dent in it. I am beyond exhausted by living the way I have for the past several years. This isn’t a life at all.

Maybe the laws regarding discharging student loans will eventually be changed - but it will be too late for me (and sadly, many others).

Cryn Johannsen said...

Ashley wrote this on Oct. 11th, and I mistakenly rejected it. Here's what she had to say:

I will NEVER kill myself over my $200,000 and growing debt. Screw the lenders. They will have to kill me first with their bare hands. What happens if you kill yourself and THEN there's a REAL solution in the next 2 years? You will have taken your life for NO REASON.

STOP giving foothold to these 'entities' over your destiny. YOU control your destiny. Money is inanimate. Debt is inanimate. Does it suck? Heck yes, but there are people in similar or worse positions.

Life is beautiful, priceless, and irreplaceable. Life is a gift. Enjoy it. You only get one.

Pay what you can when you can. Credit is a scam like student loans. Collectors call your phone shut it off.

Let's spend more energy not getting panicked or overwhelmed but coming up with solutions. Power in numbers.

Anonymous said...

How is calling the suicide hotline going to help? Most problems have solutions. This one doesn't. I have not only ruined my life but have also ruined my four children's lives. I'm just supposed to wait for laws to change? Suicide or total disability are the only ways out

Anonymous said...

Do Not Call any hotline of any kind. They are there to put a stigmatizing mark on you, get you into the system, put you on drugs, take your property, take your kids, etc etc etc... Previous posters were right, calling the suicide hotline might just add another 30 grand to your debt load. Thanks freemasons!