Tonight I ran across this editorial in the Huffington Post: “The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides.

Reading this broke my heart.

I had no idea that this was a problem plaguing post-grads, and it scares me to think that this could become more common in the future.

I certainly have more than enough of my own college debt bearing down on me, which makes me able to understand why these former students are so stressed out. And I’m not alone in owing money to my college of choice.

From the editorial:

 According to the Department of Education, those recent graduates who began repayments in 2009, 8.8 percent had already defaulted on their federal loans. That compares to 7 percent in 2008. Currently, 36 million Americans have outstanding federal loans.

It can be very easy to feel like the world is weighing down on you. And when that weight is equal to thousands of dollars that seems like will never be paid back, it seems like there will never be a light at the end of the tunnel.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You have your whole life ahead of you – it’s just taking the time to realize that although you do have this debt, it does not own you. Yes, you will have to pay it back, and yes, it is going to hurt your bank account (most of the time), but you will be able to manage your debt and pay it back without accumulating too much interest.

The truth is that most Americans are in debt – either from our student loans or from credit card bills or paying back the bank for a new car. Debt is practically inevitable these days.

It makes me sad that there are people my age out there who feel so smothered by this debt that they seem to know no other way out of the situation. If you are seriously considering ending your life, you owe it to yourself and everyone else around you to get the help that you need.

Not only do you need to take care of yourself, but you need to keep an eye out for friends who may be battling severe depression.

According to WebMD, here are the symptoms to look out for in others of suicidal behavior:

  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression — deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating — that gets worse
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death such as driving fast or running red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Saying things like “it would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Talking about suicide or killing one’s self
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

If you or someone you know needs help, there are many resources out there, including the following hotlines: the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-784-2433 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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