“Debt and Suicide: Killing Yourself Over Debt”
by Jackie Beck
“This is going to get personal. Suicide is heartbreaking, both for the people contemplating suicide (because of their student loans, other debt, or any reason) and for the many people suicide always impacts (family, friends, and acquaintances). If you’re thinking of suicide, here are some things to consider.
If you’re thinking of suicide… What I’m about to say in the next section is not to add guilt to the top of everything else you might be feeling if you’re thinking of suicide because of debt or any other reason. It’s to let you know that you are not burdening people by staying alive, and life could get better in the future. Even if you’re facing homelessness, can’t find work, are in a bad relationship, have a mountain of debt, or are feeling hopeless for any reason. And I say all that as someone who has been clinically depressed and had brief thoughts like “what if I just turned the steering wheel real quick and hit that divider” in the past.
I couldn’t have imagined things could turn around when I was depressed, but they eventually did after I got help, changed some things in my life, and gave it time. Exercise (in the form of walking, even just a little bit) helped too, even though I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. I would have missed out on so much if I’d acted on that impulse. Luckily, I immediately thought of my son instead, who was a toddler at the time.
So keep in mind that it could get better than the empty depths of depression, loneliness, and despair you might be feeling today. I hope you choose to keep living. There are resources toward the end of this post that might be helpful. Click here to go straight to them.
Now, on to my story and other information…
About James: I’m going to talk about a coworker who I’ll call James. Years ago, we had the same junior-level jobs at a pretty big employer, and had been working together on trying to get paid more. I had lunch with him one Friday after we’d heard back that they weren’t going to increase the salary for our job, and then he left that weekend for a 2-week Australian vacation that his mom was taking him on.
He never came back to work. Instead, James got home from vacation, drove out to the desert, and killed himself in his truck. He wasn’t found for a while, even though people were looking and knew something bad had to have happened. When they broke into his apartment, they found that he’d laid out everything except the location, trying to make things easier for others.
But the thing is, you can’t really make things easier for the people left behind, and you definitely can’t minimize their pain, anger, or bewilderment. Or the sense of “if only I had known…what could I have done differently? Why why why…” Or the shock and lasting sadness. We all feel what we’re going to feel.
Those are my feelings from the death of a coworker that I basically would chat and joke with when we ran into each other. I’m crying right now as I write this, about 20 years later. He was a fun person and to outside appearances seemed fine. I can’t imagine how hard it must still be for his family and friends, or how terrifying his last moments must have been.
Debt and money problems are not a death sentence. Even if you feel like you have no one, know that you are not alone. (You are also not a loan, as my friend Melanie says.)
Sometimes it can be a struggle to make it through the day. Or the next hour. Sometimes…you have to work on making it through the next minute. And then the next one, one minute at a time. Surprisingly, that can actually help get through some tough things, including excruciating pain. Or at least it did me.
I believe that YOU deserve good in your life, and it’s possible you could get to that place someday even though it may not seem like it right now.
So if you don’t know what to do, try focusing on getting through one minute at a time. Consider talking about your real thoughts or feelings to someone you feel comfortable with, to a hotline, or to a professional. (I think most people would listen and try to help, even if they aren’t sure how. If I’m wrong and they happen to be heartless or if they try but end up saying something that leaves you feeling worse, realize that it is NOT you. Regroup and take a chance on the next person.)”
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