This blog post is part of the World Suicide Prevention Day blog tour. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call for help right away. In the United States call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.Suicide.org. In Canada call your local crisis center, call 911 or visit http://suicideprevention.ca.
We are incredibly honoured to be a part of this blog tour to discuss suicide prevention. Scott and I each wrote a post to discuss this very important topic. You can read Scott’s post here.
For too many people being poor or having debt is through no fault of their own. There are systemic issues in our country that keep people living below the poverty line with very little chance of getting out. For many people who are not in this situation they look to others in debt and think that it is a choice. I assure you it is not the case for more people than you think.
Cost of Getting Your Money:
Things like payday loans, high bank/ATM fees or high credit card fees eat away at what little people have. If you need to take out money from your bank but don’t live near an ATM of your bank you have no choice to use another bank machine and pay a fee. In many cases your bank charges you to use another machine that isn’t theirs and the machine charges you for the right to take money out. If you have to take out $20 dollars and pay $1.50-$2 from your bank and another $3-$6 for the right to use the bank machine you are looking at 22% to 40% of the original $20 in fees. Not many of us would pay 40% of our money just to get it.
Cost of not having a bank:
That is if you even have a bank. According to an article from 2015 from the Economist 8% of American households don’t have a bank account due to fees, fear of fees or not meeting minimum payments to keep their money in the bank. One in three of those families make less than $15,000/year. So in order to get money, people have to get cheques cashed with costs ranging anywhere from 2-5% of the cheque total. But if you have to pay your rent and get food on the table what choice do you have.
This is a reality and it is an incredible sad one at that. It breaks my heart to think that this is a reality for so many people. None of these are choices that they made to spend money they didn’t earn on a lavish trip or designer duds. This is simply just accessing their money to take care of basic needs. You can get some more information on where I got the above numbers here.
It can happen to anyone:
When I think back to Scott having to do a cash advance from his credit card to pay for his car I now realize that he didn’t really have a choice. Continuing to take public transit was not an option as it took 2+ hours to commute to and from school (each way) and getting to work took 1 hour each way. Getting to work on time is important when you work in the service industry and personal issues like getting caught on public transit isn’t viewed with much compassion.
I also know that he was one of the lucky ones to be able to get out of debt because it could have been so much worse. There are very predatory behaviours out there that prey on people who are already vulnerable. Sometimes without any choice of your own it can cause damage to your financial present and future.
Sometimes Life Sucks:
This is a long way of saying that this is not your fault. This system was not designed to protect you and it isn’t your fault. The biggest concern that I see is that people who are in this situation believe the only way out from the creditors and harassing phone calls is to end their life.
Even if the situation you are in is your “fault” it is not a reason to end your life. If you spent all of your student loans on partying when you should have known better and now can’t find a job to pay it all back you should not end your life because of it. A mistake is just that you can come out okay on the other side. There are tons of free resources available to help you get out of debt and I believe that you can do this.
We all make decisions with the best intentions. Scott has said that mistakes are just decisions that don’t go as we planned. You didn’t plan to lose your job or be unable to find a place to live close to your work resulting in a 2 hour commute on public transit. The decisions we make are the best decisions we can with the information that we have at the time. Every decision is a risk no matter how well thought out it was.
There is hope:
Any problem or mistake you make, no matter how insurmountable, can be fixed. I mean that and I will repeat it. Every problem can be fixed in some way and nothing as permanent as ending your life is required to solve it.
You are not defined by your biggest mistake. We all make mistakes and we all have the chance to learn. I believe that in this life we are given what we can handle and we are here on this earth to learn and grow. When you are in the thick of the forest it seems so dark that the light has all but disappeared. You feel desperate and afraid and truly alone.
Several years ago I felt the weight of a huge mistake that I was keeping from so many people. I did not know how to face the people I cared about most and tell the truth. It caused a deep level of pain and shame that I had never experienced before. Those feelings made made me make decisions that were not in my nature. It caused a trip to the hospital and some deep conversations with those that I love the most. That allowed me to deal with my mistake, heal and grow.
Temporary Problem ≠ Permanent Solution:
If you have debt and you are making decisions between food and rent I urge you to talk to a trusted bankruptcy trustee to discover your options. Do not fall between the cracks – please get help as no one would want you to end your life over this. Taking your life is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Do not stay in your head with this. Talk to someone, anyone and don’t take on this burden alone. There is someone who loves you. I promise this is something you can get over. I urge you to get help to address whatever problem you are experiencing debt or otherwise with trusted professionals. Look to your work, community or faith based options where possible.
Once again – you are not defined by your biggest mistake. With the love and support of those around you, you can get through this pain you are feeling.
Take care of yourself and know you are loved – Sarah
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