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SUICIDE | Man who owed as much as $100,000 felt trapped by his student loans and 'lower than low' that he had no job
September 24, 2007
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporteremail@example.com
Jan Yoder was preparing for her son's funeral when the phone rang. It was another student loan collector wanting to know when her son would pay up.
Her terse response: Jason is dead. And, she said, "You are part of the reason he took his own life.''
It was those calls and the burden of crushing debt, she says, that led her depressed son to take the drastic action of killing himself late last month. He did so in the Illinois State University chemistry building in Normal -- in the very lab where he did his research to earn his master's degree....
"It made him feel lower than low to tell somebody every week, 'I don't have a job,'" his mother says now. "It drags you down. You feel like nothing.''
Jason, 35, owed more than $65,000, according to the National Student Loan Data Service. But it's possible his debt was higher because that figure only includes government-backed loans and not the high-interest private loans students increasingly rely on. He told family members his debt had grown to more than $100,000.
While relatives acknowledge Yoder had fought depression on and off for years, advocates for student borrowers say his case is another example of a student feeling trapped by student debt. Unlike most other debt, the loans cannot, by law, be discharged through bankruptcy, and collection agencies have extraordinary powers to collect them by garnisheeing wages or even Social Security benefits...."