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Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > I Want to Kill Myself Because of My Student Loans. I Dream of Dying.

I Want to Kill Myself Because of My Student Loans. I Dream of Dying.

“Dear Steve,

I have seen that there are others who have posted that they have contemplated suicide in order to get out of student loan debt and I can tell you that they aren’t alone.

I was laid off twice since I graduated and I can’t afford to pay my loans back. I couldn’t even if I found a job. I pay $280/month (that is WITH IBR) in my Federal loans and over $600/month in private.

I haven’t defaulted yet because I have managed to borrow money from parents and sell off any belongings that I have.

Keep in mind, I can’t find a job in this economy. I have zero dollars income, so they are using my husbands income for IBR, I assume.

I apply for every job I can find and I am told that I am either over-qualified or under-qualified. My husband contributes what he can in order to pay the loans, which leaves us with nothing.

One used car was repossessed. We have a baby, who needs food and diapers, so now we have $1,000s in credit card debt on top of it all.

We would be homeless and living on the street if my parents didn’t give us a room in their house. Every penny we have goes to student loans, so any need we have goes on a credit card and I can’t breathe!

There are plenty of nights where I close my eyes and imagine dying and how I wouldn’t have to feel this weight on my anymore if I died.

I have wished that I would die in my sleep on several occasions. I believe that the only reason I am still here is my baby. She needs me but at the same time, what kind of life will she have with me as a mother?

I can’t provide her with anything. We struggle just to buy diapers and there is no end in sight. I will never be able to buy a home. If something were to happen to my parents, we’d live under a bridge.

My credit is destroyed. I won’t be able to send her to college and if you can’t get a job with a college degree now, imagine 18 years from now. The problem is, I don’t know if that will solve the problem either.

My father co-signed for the loan, so if I were to die, would they go after him for the money?

I know I sound dramatic, but this is what I live with every day. Every day is a struggle to get through. I sit in front of a computer applying for jobs that I won’t get and even if I do the income won’t cover my bills. (Don’t forget that when I am employed, the IBR goes up).

I am missing the best years of my baby’s life trying to make sure she can have a life some day and I can’t help myself, so how can I help her. I am usually a much better writer but I had no idea so many emotions were going to come flooding out. I apologize. Most of this information is irrelevant to you.

Is there any way out? How do I get out? Will my dad be stuck with the loans no matter what?


The Answer

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Dear J,

I understand how the hopeless feelings you are having about the student loans debt naturally lead you to some conclusion that killing yourself is a better way to deal with the situation.

I’m not judging you for thinking that but I hope you realize that’s just fucked up. It’s not a representation of what reality is. It’s a representation of what your emotional state is.

You are you and your debt is your debt. Debt is just math wrapped in emotion. It is not moral and does not judge you. It’s a number.

So let’s say you kill yourself over this number. That doesn’t make the debt go away. That just leaves your baby without a mother, your husband alone and your father holding the bag for the debt.

Let’s look at the worst that can happen here with your debt. If you can’t pay the debt then the collectors will tack on a collection penalty and might go after your father for the balance due. He’s on the hook anyway so committing suicide doesn’t solve a thing except let you think you are running away.

Let’s stop trying to live your life in fear.

fear is a prison

Let’s start living in hope and seek out kindness and gratitude. I know that’s trite advice but you how what, it really works. The more you put out positive energy, the more positive energy you attract.

If you can’t find a job, let’s find some benefits you qualify for. That’s the same as income. I want you to go to and use the online calculator to find out what help you are eligible for. Help with diapers and baby food is better than no help with diapers and baby food.

How much other debt do you have on top of the student loan debt?

Why not turn to some other avenues of applying for some kind of income. What about or even for local job openings. All the people I know are finding jobs that way instead of the big employment boards.

Let’s start making some positive moves towards a better future. If you’ve applied for 400 jobs, I want you to apply for 400 more. If you have not tried those other resources I gave you, try them.

Go around to your local businesses and ask them if they are hiring. Jobs are often available before they are advertised.

If you’ve given up on yourself and your future, then that is a self-fullfiling prophecy.

Take a day off for a pity festival and then get the hell back to making a job out of getting a job. Oh yes, and applying for all the benefits you are qualified for.

If you kill yourself over this I will personally hunt you down and kick your ass.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Samantha

    This post is a few years old so I’m not sure if the poster will even see this but many couples with this problem file their taxes married filing separately, so their loan repayment amounts are only based on their own individual income. Yes, its the worst tax position but I guess it must really work as I prepare a lot of separate returns.

    • Steve Rhode

      Why don’t you just setup your own IBR. You can do it yourself. The IBR isn’t a trap if you think your income is not going to improve. If you don’t think it will then who cares how long you are in it.

      If your current situation makes repaying your student loans and undue hardship, there is an opportunity to discharge the loans in bankruptcy. See

      • AJK

        Listen, I believe you want to be helpful. But you don’t get it and you don’t “listen” to what people say. I already explained why I’m seeking help with the IBR. These companies are a nightmare to deal with, and not all my loans are with the same service company.

        Read Basically Bass’s post again. And then mine. An IBR doesn’t SOLVE anything. It will NEVER touch the principle and they’ll just keep adding tens of thousands a year to my loan in interest. And I can’t discharge my loans – dream on about that one. I don’t even remotely meet the ridiculously strict criteria for “undue hardship” – already discussed that ad nauseum with my attorney, who, btw, is one of the few who HAS successfully gotten student loans discharged. Of course, one of those individuals was 70 years old. Great, maybe in another 15+ years I can discharge my loans. Yippee! And live in hell until then. NO thanks.

        As I said, I’m already in my 50s. I have NO future that is worth living because of this debt. Can’t ever own a home. Can’t date or get married. Can’t finance anything. Permanently ruined credit. Can’t EVER retire. And god forbid I ever get sick or injured. If you call that a worthwhile life, good for you. But for me, I’d rather be dead than keep living like this. “Abject misery” sums it up quite well.

        All of you debt help people really don’t have a clue to the reality those of us with crushing student debt deal with. Add growing tax debt to that, and there’s just no point in trying any more.

        Sorry I wasted my time posting here.

      • Steve Rhode

        I’m apparently not doing a good job expressing myself. If you feel your income is not going to go up and you qualify for the IBR then ride it out. It won’t reduce your balance but you will either turn 75 and the balance will be forgiven or you will pass away of natural causes before then.

        An IBR does solve something. It reduces the payment to make it fall more in line with income. It doesn’t reduce the balance.

        The criteria for undue hardship is changing fast and people who have limited future income potential are having their loans eliminated. In fact the department of education is putting forward a better definition soon that will make this easier.

        It is impossible to have permanently ruined credit. Credit is stupid easy to rebuild.

  • Basically Bass

    I really hope that nobody commits suicide for any reason, but I don’t think your advice really takes into account the writer’s situation. For some of us, simply hanging in there and making minimum payments for 25 years will lead to a life of abject misery. No ability to ever own a home. No ability to start a family. If your loans are ever forgiven, the loan forgiveness is counted as income. For most, that tax bill will force them into bankruptcy – further delaying the ability to ever buy a home or retire. Most people don’t want to subsist and merely exist for their entire life. Stripped of all hope. No options to alleviate the burden and help them move on in a responsible way. The representative government of the people codified into law the rules that govern student loan debtors. When your society is telling you that the only viable way out of debt is through death, it’s no wonder people want to commit suicide. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and we’re going to see a lot of people looking at suicide in a rational way given the options.

    • Steve Rhode

      I agree with you. There are no good options and I find it entirely ironic that the law allows for a fresh start through bankruptcy but Congress excluded most student loans from that protection. Heck, even IRS debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    • AJK

      Basically Bass, you get it, and I appreciate that at least SOMEONE gets it. There are tears as I type this, because I contemplate suicide every single day due to overwhelming debt. Not credit card debt. Student loan debt and tax debt. I’m in my 50s. Single. I stopped dating long ago due to my growing debt. I no longer dream of having my own home and instead living in a small, crummy apartment. My career was ruined by a severe bout of depression (long story) and the income I had planned on didn’t happen. Now I work from home, managing to keep a roof over my head, but unable to pay even current taxes on my income, let alone back taxes. I’m behind on filing and terrified that once I do, the wolves will be at my door and want more than I can pay. I’ve already gone through one eviction due to my financial struggles. I can’t afford to lose this home too. I lose sleep, and my anxiety is such that it’s difficult for me to be productive. I have a worthless attorney who’s supposed to be setting up an IBR. He thinks it’s great that I might have to pay only $50 a month. YAY!!! But that will continue for 25 years and NEVER touch the principle. So, I can NEVER retire. I have no health insurance so god forbid I get sick or injured. I can’t get help for my taxes because THAT costs money and I’ve lost faith in my attorney helping me with that. I have no life anymore. It’s easy to say “get a second job” – I barely have energy for my current work. I absolutely would rather be dead than live out whatever is left of my life working not one, but TWO jobs I hate, making little payments towards debt that will never go away. THAT IS NOT A LIFE WORTH LIVING!!! I don’t have anyone who needs me – no children, no spouse, no family. If I die, no one will be left with my debt. I truly see no reason most days to keep going.

      I don’t need preachy people telling me that suicide is a “permanent solution to a temporary problem”. There is NOTHING “temporary” about my problem. It is NOT going away unless I win the lottery (I don’t play, so that’s not going to happen). I’ve been dealing with this stress for many years now. I am tired and worn out. This isn’t a life at all. I’m tired of this debt. I didn’t end up in this situation because I’m irresponsible. Yes, I took a well-thought out reasonable risk going into debt to get my master’s and doctorate (necessary for my field of work) and didn’t anticipate everything going south shortly after grad school.

      I’m terrified of the IRS and the state. I’ve had my bank account frozen in the past and one of my freelance clients was garnished – guess what?? I LOST the client after that happened.

      I feel trapped in my worst nightmare. I know it’s just a matter of time.

      I’ve heard all the usual advice – get a second job (won’t even make a dent and will make me more exhausted and miserable than I already am); cut down expenses – great – I’m already living pretty frugally. And on and on. No one has offered a solution that will actually help.

      And to make it all worse? I can never date or marry because of this mess, so I don’t get to have love in my life either.

      The tears are streaming now.

      Anyway, Basically Bass, I am grateful that at least YOU get it – you summed up how I feel perfectly. I wish more people would get it like you do.

      • Steve Rhode

        Just an observation, I want to make sure you are aware that tax liabilities more than three years old can be eliminated and discharged in bankruptcy. After that you could make a minimum payment plan with the IRS for the current amount due.

        You can setup the IBR yourself if you wanted to. See

        Here is an article we posted yesterday about a way to pay down your student loan in your spare time. See

        Does any of that information help you in your situation?

      • AJK

        Yes, I’m aware of the tax liabilities. But as I said I’m several years behind on filing taxes, so those can’t be discharged until they’ve been filed for 3 years. Bankruptcy won’t touch 95% of my tax debt and none of my student loan debt.

        My attorney has had 4 months to get this IBR set up, and now my most recent deferment has ended and still NO IBR in place. I have a ton of different student loans, two or three different service companies managing them, and I’ve been told those can’t consolidated at this point, so I don’t know how to set an IBR up due to these complex factors. And the main service company (ACS) is horrid to deal with (they have hundreds of complaints) and usually it’s someone with an accent so thick you can’t understand a word they say. That’s why I hired an attorney who has a lot of experience with student loans, but he has completely dropped the ball leaving me more stressed than ever. I’m not one of his high paying clients, so clearly I don’t matter.

        But as I said, an IBR doesn’t fix anything (and your article on the IBR “trap” only made me more concerned about going that route). I’m in my 50s not 20s, and an IBR will last 25 years! This ever growing debt has destroyed my credit. So, I have no future anymore because of this debt. THAT’s what drives the suicidal thoughts. I have no life. I just exist miserably while drowning in all this debt.

        I grew up in a blue collar family with a lot of financial stress. I tried to better my life by getting a good education so I could have a well-paying career. Now I’m worse off than ever and living an endless nightmare. I’m tired. Really, really tired. The stress is taking a toll on my health, and I can’t afford health coverage. What’s the point any more??

  • truth

    This advice is completely shitty and this entire site is utter shit, people with debt trouble don’t need a bunch of scam capital one cards(the worst out there) or scam debt management consolidation crap.

    If you aren’t at the point that says this system is predatory and cannot be worked ‘with’ only against, then you are an idiot. Student loans are a scam to make the young pay for the privilege to work for the old. Just like all gambling, it uses the advertising of the success cases to lure in millions of people who have no chance of succeeding with it. It lets the people with all the advantages feel self-made when their parents gave them most of what they needed.

    If indeed what you say is true, although I doubt people like you believe it, and that debt is not a moral thing, or that it is abstract and not real, then they should just be dissolved like all evil fantasies, not used to scrap 20% out of the wages of people already in poverty.

    Student loans are a scam and this site is idiotic, don’t pay back your student loans at all, ever, they are just small business loans that some evil people made not endable by bankrupcy and we live in the window where idiots like the guy who runs this site haven’t figured that out yet.

    • Steve Rhode

      This seems more like a rant than a solution to the readers question. Did I miss something?

  • Jason

    Steve, very good advise. You have to be able to work the system and find the best way out of dept. Don’t panic over student loans. Not going to jail or anything like that. Take it a day at a time and work out a solution to your problem.

  • M.L.H. Javert

    No offense, but Craigslist and Snagajob are about as helpful as asking the neighbor’s 12 year old deaf and blind dog for job leads. I’m $40,000 in debt in student loans, and am currently working for $8 an hour at Menards (a hardware chain in the Midwest, for those of you who have no clue what Menards is). When I was still unemployed, Snagajob only had jobs for minimum wage (my state sits directly at the Federal Minimum – $7.25/hr.). I am not even close to making it on $8/hr. My rent, groceries, fuel for my car (car is paid off, as my parents gave me my mom’s old car – paid none of my 4 year college, but at least gave me a car that was paid off), credit card, and student loan make it where I’m lucky to skirt by. I can’t save, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m trapped. I only make minimum payments, and have to use the extended payment plan on my student loans. Now imagine trying to live on a wage 75¢ less than the wage I currently receive. It couldn’t be done. You wouldn’t think 75¢ extra an hour would make that big of a difference, but it does. I see no way I could work for the direct federal minimum, and still even pay the bare minimum payments on all of my debts. Snagajob is designed to advertise minimum wage work (the kind of work that works best for students, not graduates). It is ill advised to use it!

    And like most other things on Craigslist, 90% of the jobs are scams. They don’t tell you who their company is, what they’ll pay, and many times, what the full job is. Many of them I believe are phishing for financial information from gullible victims.

    In America today, what you know no longer matters – it’s who you know that matters. If you’re like me and weren’t born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and don’t know anyone in a position of power to get you hired, you are in effect screwed! I, like the original question-author “J”, have considered suicide. My loving fiancée and my religious beliefs are the main reason I don’t. I could never bear to hurt her, and I do believe that God would not approve of my taking the life he bestowed upon myself. But the reality is, that doesn’t stop the thought from crossing one’s mind. We are a generation enslaved by debts we cannot pay, that we acquired due to the false promises of our Baby Boomer and Gen X parents, who said we’d be trapped flipping burgers or working shitty retail jobs if we didn’t go to college. Guess what? We went to college and yet we’re still stuck working as burger flippers and retail drones, and at that for less money than if we’d have not gone to college at all, and with far more debt than if we’d never had gone. We’ve been duped!

    All I want is a fucking job that I can pay more than the bare minimum on my debts. I want to be able to pay the normal payment instead of the extended plan payment on my loan. How does someone with no connections get a job that allows one to live comfortably?

  • Mary Barson

    When I went on disability, I wrote the governor of our state and told him I no longer could work so I had no means to pay my student loans. He sent me a letter back, with his deepest sympathies for my illness and he “forgave” all my student loans. Worth a shot.

    • M.L.H. Javert

      I find this post flawed. No Governor of any state has the authority to pardon, or “forgive” loans granted by the Feds or the private sector. Care to elaborate how he managed to do that when the law doesn’t seem to allow for him to?

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