Taboo Money: Why Do People Kill Themselves Over Debt?
In 2011, Michelle’s mother tried committing suicide with pills. After a failed attempt, she tried again. The reason? Debt-related depression.
“Despite having successfully filed for bankruptcy, she still had to face the demons that were her debt, including a Parent PLUS student loan for my tuition. The cycle repeated itself for six years,” says Michelle.
It wasn’t until Michelle and other family members intervened and helped her manage her finances that things slowly got better.
For many borrowers, the weight of debt can be heavy. Sometimes, the feeling is so heavy that it seems hard to go on.
You’re deep in debt and struggling to make payments. If things are really bad, maybe you’ve missed payments or avoided your debt altogether and you’re getting hounded by debt collectors.
It seems like you are living to pay off the debt. After a few months or years of struggling, everything starts to feel a bit hopeless. What’s the point? You can’t enjoy your money; it’s not yours anyway. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone.
According to a study by Payoff, 23 percent of Americans experience extreme financial stress with symptoms mirroring PTSD.
While many people may hit varying degrees of depression, for a select group of people, being in debt is more than just a crappy situation — it could be a matter of life and death. It could get so bad that you think of killing yourself because of debt.
A report by the University of South Hampton found that there is a strong correlation between debt and mental health. An analysis in Psychology Today says that people who commit suicide are eight times more likely to be in debt. While the statistics paint a bleak picture, debt should not be a reason to end it all.
Debt Is Not a Death Sentence
Killing yourself over debt may seem like a good option, but you will hurt your family and friends. Worse, even after you are gone, your family or spouse may still be responsible for the debt, as well.
And even though it doesn’t feel like it to the people crushed under it, all debt is temporary. It could take years — or even decades —to pay off debt, but with a plan, you can pay it off.
By cutting back and earning more, you can slowly start to make a dent. It will not be easy, but the point is that it is possible. Try to get creative with ways to make more money through side hustling or living rent-free.
Resources such as American Debt Enders offer free credit counseling and access to your credit report, which are both extremely useful when it comes to rebuilding your credit. They also have a new debt relief program that teaches you how to budget and covers the topic of bankruptcy for those who need it.
If you need free advice, CreditRepair offers many free services, such as credit evaluation and recommended solutions for your unique situation from a team professional.
Ultimately, it’s never a good idea to use a permanent solution for a temporary problem. If you or someone you know is thinking of giving it all up — or even thinking of committing the extreme act — because of debt, there are ways to help them. Reach out. You are not alone. You are not a loan.
First, contact your creditors and see if you can negotiate your interest rate. In addition, ask about any payment plans or deferment options (for federal student loans, this is an easy option). Your debt can feel insurmountable, but in order to overcome it, you need to take action.
A hard task when you’re feeling hopeless, I know. In addition to working with your lender, you can utilize the following services to get help:
If you’re feeling suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can get some much-needed support through this hotline and speak to a trained counselor. They’ll be able to provide resources and guide you through options.
Debt Management Programs
There are non-profit credit counseling agencies that you can contact that may be able to help you. These programs differ from some dubious debt settlement programs. A debt management program (DMP) provides a system of paying down debt to your creditors. Many of these programs may offer waived fees and can help you rebuild your credit. Typically, you’ll be set up with a plan and pay back your debt within 36 to 60 months.
Another option that you can consider – which should be considered very carefully and as a last resort – is declaring bankruptcy. Typically, there are two types of bankruptcies that you can file: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. While this may look like a great option, there are still hefty fees involved, and you would need to file in a federal bankruptcy court.
Under bankruptcy, you may be able to get rid of your debt, but there may be consequences to your credit, and you may accrue additional fees.
Still, anything is better than killing yourself over debt.