“Many of the folks who are incredibly deep in law school debt will end up killing themselves.”

That quote appears in an article in the Huffington Post, where C. Cryn Johannsen, a self-described “advocate for the indentured educated student” tries to make the connection between school loan debt, unemployment, and suicide.

Johannsen admits “[t]here have been no epidemiological studies attempting to find a correlation between student loan indebtedness and suicide or suicide attempts” but she points to a number of alarming anecdotes.

Without some statistics, it is hard to draw a straight line from student loan debt to suicide, but it definitely would not surprise me to learn that such a line exists, even if it detours through unemployment, depression, debt collection, and other factors.


  1. Avatar Phil says:

    So we have an article that speculates on a relationship between two variables with no empirical evidence. And you repeat that speculation adding an alarmist headline.

    • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

      I didn’t write the headline; I quoted from the article. I thought that quotation summed up the thrust of the article rather well.

      • Avatar Joe says:


        +1. This post (and it’s title…quote or not) is bull.

        Slow news day?

        • Sam Glover Sam G. says:

          I didn’t repeat the conclusion of the article credulously; I quoted the line that, I think, shows the complete lack of empirical evidence. But, as I said, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a link. I represented consumers dealing with debt collection for years, and many of them mentioned suicidal thoughts. Blame it on the debt collection, if you like, but that’s a consequence of the debt plus the inability to repay it. You can blame it on mental health, too, but the debt adds additional strain that may be the final straw.

          The fact that there is no empirical evidence is entirely due to the fact that, as far as I can tell, nobody has looked for any. There are some strong indicators that there may be a link, though, and that’s the best we can say for now. I think Ms. Johannsen said more than the evidence supports, but I think she is right to point out the potential connection.

  2. Avatar Phil says:

    I suspect that if there is a correlation, both variables correlate to a root cause of destructive decision-making. I doubt debt causes suicide; poor choices cause both.

  3. Avatar Max says:

    *yawn* Using a sensationalist headline to drive traffic instead of an honest title like “Unfounded Speculation of Link Between JDs and Suicide”.

  4. Avatar Jeff says:

    Financial problems are a known variable associated with suicide, so I think the speculation is probably on the mark.

  5. Avatar M says:

    If I ever need a reminder of how mean, small, pedantic, and rude lawyers can be I only need to go to the comments section of any legal blog.
    Nothing in this post struck me as sensational or far-fetched or controversial.
    Of course 6 figure non-dischargeable debt could make you feel overwhelmed. Carry that debt into the worst legal market in forever, and it isn’t surprising that you might feel trapped. Happen to have an aging parent co-signer also shackled to the “investment” and you’d likely develop anxiety and a terrible sinking feeling of helplessness.
    All of that could easily develop into depression.
    Now mix in the growing realization that the profession you’re a part of is chock full of mean-spirited, know-it-all trolls like “Phil” and you are almost guaranteed to be churning constant suicidal ideations. I know I am. Someone get me a 72 hour hold please.

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