Student Loans and Lives Lost

Some of the people who write to me are quite specific about how they plan to kill themselves. One person said, “I think about jumping from the 27th floor window of my office every day.” For suicide prevention experts, this is a dangerous sign, as it means that the person has actually devised a plan to carry out the act. In recent months, the notes have increased, and if anything they are even more desperate. One individual admitted that he thought about killing himself all the time. Another even claimed — which was beyond disturbing — that prior to writing his comment, he had been sitting in his car, with the garage door shut.

There have been no epidemiological studies attempting to find a correlation between student loan indebtedness and suicide or suicide attempts, but experts would not be surprised if one exists.

Having massive amounts of debt that you can’t discharge in bankruptcy can make a person feel very helpless. Here is a discussion about student loans and suicide from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and the Huffington Post. [via]

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

MuffyStJohn (#280)

This is so profoundly depressing, and the sad thing is I think the student loan crisis will have to get much, much worse before it gets better. I mean, Congress just made it even more difficult to pay off loans, getting rid of grace periods for undergrads and forcing grad students to pay interest while in school. I don’t know what it will take to right all these wrongs, but I do know nobody on either side of the aisle feels like trying that hard to come up with a solution.

sockhopbop (#764)

@MuffyStJohn Agreed — the problem is that the system works out great for the government and private lenders, so they have no motivation to intervene. Any real change will have to be spurred by a popular movement.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@sockhopbop It’s also working swell for academic institutions, who can continue to inflate tuition with prestige projects while pawning the actual teaching off onto grad students and adjuncts. And hey, you can always make up that difference in cost with student loans you don’t really understand!

@MuffyStJohn Actually the latest changes have not eliminated the grace period. The change is that subsidized Stafford loans taken out from 2012-2014 will only get their subsidy while the borrower is in school. Previously, the subsidy extended through entire grace period and ended only when repayment began. But there’s still a grace period for federal loans, and as before, it’s 6 months for Stafford and 9 for Perkins.

You are correct that subsidized loans are no longer available for graduate students. This does not affect a large number of grad students though; only some of them were eligible for those loans to begin with.

(Not legal/financial advice, note that I am not officially speaking on behalf of my employer, etc. See http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/recentChangesSA.jsp for details).

kitten_witawip (#1,309)

Maybe we could all vote for some kind of banking reform that taxed the institutions and/or people that/who benefited from these loans and reinstated the laws that prohibited these lending practices? And could this happen in November?

fadetoblack (#4,770)

I was at this point about 2.5 years ago. Devised a plan to use my last remaining cash to buy a handgun and get enough gas to drive to Sallie Mae’s headquarters, where I would proceed to blow my brains out all over the sign outside of the building. At least that might make a statement. Luckily for me, I stumbled into a job that pays me good money, enough to survive, and that option came off the table.

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