September is Suicide Prevention Month, and this year we all have a new telephone number to call: 988. Three digits, 9-8-8, as easy to tap as 911. If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, please stop reading this and call 988. For many of us, thoughts of permanently ending the spiral of debt can eclipse all rational thinking.
Debt and Mental Health
Business Insider, using Federal Reserve data for 2019, showed that the average Texan carried these amounts and types of debts:
- $7,000 in auto loans
- $3,080 in credit card (unsecured) debt
- $29,200 in mortgage debt
- $5,160 in student loan debt
That's $44,440 in debt for every adult Texan. While that is below the national average of $52,940, it is still a heavy burden. Debt can affect your mental health, your physical wellbeing, and your relationships.
Some of the physiological effects of financial stress, say experts at Health, include:
- Food cravings
- Difficulty maintaining weight
- Heart problems
- Memory deficits
- Hair loss
- High blood sugar
- Skin problems
- High blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal complaints
- Back pain
In addition to the toll on your body, financial stress and debt are directly connected to mental wellness. Dr. Sabrina Romanoff tells Health that "Financial stress is a significant risk factor for suicide, particularly among people who are tasked with the role of 'provider' or those who are responsible for preserving the lifestyle of those who depend upon them.”
Signs you or a family member may be dealing with mental health issues related to debt and financial problems include:
- Substance abuse
- A sense of hopelessness, helplessness, or both
- Talking about suicide, disposition of personal belongings, or planning for a suicide attempt
- Feelings of failure and shame
The psychological term for a debtor's feeling that a trusted institution—such as a bank, mortgage lender, or student loan processor—has mistreated that individual is institutional betrayal. Sadly, reports of violations in predatory lending laws regularly appear, such as the Wells Fargo violations, State Street Corporation, or the student loan servicer Aidvantage. Sharp as most Texans are, we are all still vulnerable to institutional betrayal because such betrayal really does occur with startling and disappointing regularity.
Suicide and suicidal thoughts, say experts at Betterup, are possible reactions to that sense of betrayal. Take a conscientious borrower struggling to pay down student debt. Since repayment schedules can be tied to income, the debt can go on for decades. Interest can pile up so fast and so high that the original debt seems a pittance compared to the current debt burden.
How prevalent is suicide triggered by financial crisis? A 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control says 16 percent of deaths by suicide were caused by job and financial problems.
You Can Feel Safe
Obviously anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts should and must call 988 right away. Nobody in our great land is truly alone in any burden they carry. Help is available, both for the immediate emergent challenge of feeling suicidal and the wider issue of financial problems.
Personal bankruptcy is definitely an option to explore. By working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This type of filing allows you to hold onto your home, cars, retirement accounts and other assets that are protected while erasing your unsecured debts. You essentially start over, which can have a huge impact on your mental outlook.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also an option. You pay off your creditors under a plan developed with help from your bankruptcy attorney. Again, you enjoy a feeling of control and accomplishment, counteracting feelings of helplessness and depression.
When you work with a trusted Frisco bankruptcy attorney, you can feel safe. You can feel confident. You can feel your financial burden lift so you no longer have to contemplate those three little digits, 9-8-8.
When you contact us at The Page Law Firm, you are no longer alone. We can provide help with financial challenges, debtor education, bankruptcy, and much more. Telephone our Frisco office at 214-618-2101 to arrange your complimentary strategy session.