Sunday, June 17, 2012

National Emergency? Suicidal Student Debtors

The suicidal notes continue to come my way. One man told me that he is planning to kill himself. I have reached out and told him that he can talk to me whenever he likes. I also contacted a fantastic scholar and clinical psychologist, Dr. Peter Kinderman at the University of Liverpool, who has offered to help as well.

If you are suicidal, I urge you to reach out to people you trust (family, friends, a pastor, or a therapist). If you don't wish to do that, seek guidance from organizations like the National Suicide Prevention lifeline (800-273-8255) or visit their website. Avoid the desire to isolate yourself. It is completely understandable to feel this way, especially when you know that you are most likely indebted for life - the feelings of low self-worth are overwhelming, and the desire to leave this life seems rational. However, suicide is not the solution to the crisis. As I've said in past posts, those who love you would be absolutely devastated if you were to take your life. I, as a fellow human being and sympathizer, would be broken up to learn of such deaths.

On a very positive note, last week I was on a teleconference call with Senators Begich (D-AK), Brown (D-OH), and Reed (D-RI). During the call I was able to bring up student loans and suicide. I let them know that the situation is worsening, people are more desperate, and many more are coming to me and admitting that they are suicidal. I told them that this is a "national emergency," and something needs to be done now. That means leaders should not wait until after the elections in November, or, God forbid, 2013.

Senator Mark Begich (D-AK)

There were moments in which I felt very hopeful during the call. Senator Begich thanked me twice for my hard work and reminding them of this harsh reality about people who have already graduated. He assured me that they are aware of the problem and just as concerned about those of us who are struggling to pay back our loans and feeling isolation and suicidal thoughts. Reed also expressed his sympathy and deep concern about the overall situation.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)

I was extremely heartened by the conversation.These are some of the very few within Congress who genuinely care about the student lending crisis and those who are buried in debt. Incidentally, Sen. Harkin of Iowa (D-IA) is another leader who has done an excellent job on shedding light on the problem, and he has not been given enough credit for his hard work, especially on his efforts to curb abuses by the for-profits.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Senator Brown made an excellent point about how out of control the cost of college has gotten. (And we know this quite well. Since 1985, college tuition has risen by 498%). Brown mentioned his wife during the call. Her father had been a union member and she came form a solid working-class family. He added, "when my wife went to school, she graduated owing $2,000 in student loans." That was 30 years ago. You could sense obvious outrage and frustration in his voice when comparing her story to the situation that young graduates face today.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

It is comforting to know that some politicians, like Harkin, Begich, Reed, and Brown truly care about our plight and want to come up with viable solutions. They urged everyone to reach out to their leaders. I call upon all of you to do this once again. Just as the Senators on the phone said, reach out to your leaders at the city, state, and national levels, and insist that they come up with short-term and long-term solutions to bring an end to this crisis. Without our hard-work, these senators wouldn't be able to push for change.


Anonymous said...


I am glad you're mentioning the suicide epidemic. In your interview with Rose Aguilar, you mentioned that it's somewhat silent because we don't have the actual numbers... but we know it's happening and even one life lost is too much.

I know that not everyone agrees with H.R. 4170 (the "Student Loan Forgiveness Act..." basically the 10 year version of an IBR), but Popvox has a way that you can write your representatives. Here's the link if anyone is interested:

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting, Cryn. This is exactly the way to go about this.

This is a non-partisan issue. Conservatives should be at the forefront of this issue just as much as democrats if they truly care about our national sovereignty, which is linked directly to the survival of a thriving middle class. The student loan crisis is only one side of a country-wide economic crisis which will, as the Soviets predicted, bury the U.S. from within unless the country pulls together.

I am not optimistic. I sometimes fear the battle is already lost, but one must continue to fight, and to remember Gandalf's wise words: "There are other forces at work in the world, Frodo."

Anonymous said...

Vote these people out. It's all talk, all BS -