Since the decline of the economy, more than 2.5 million homeowners have faced foreclosure. The loss of a home can be devastating to a family, and the emotional toll can add to their financial stress. The resulting depression can leave them feeling hopeless. In fact, research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University concludes that there is a link between foreclosure rates and mental and physical health problems, as well as suicide attempts. The Wall Street Journal reported that the research showed that there were 39% more suicide attempts for homeowners facing foreclosure than those who are not.
On June 28, 2012, Michael Marin, a millionaire in Arizona, died in a courtroom after being convicted of arson for burning down his mansion because he wasn't able to make his mortgage payments. Initial reports claim that he appeared to put something in his mouth shortly before suffering from convulsions and collapsing after the verdict was read. A container labeled "cyanide" was found in his vehicle.
In May, 2012, California resident Norman Rousseau was attempting to repair his RV so his family would have a place to live after being notified of an upcoming lockout. Mr. Rousseau and his wife had refinanced their home, receiving a higher interest rate than they previously had. Wells Fargo subsequently didn't credit them with a payment, which led to a loan modification denial. Unable to repair the RV, Rousseau was distraught and committed suicide.
These are just a couple examples of foreclosure-related suicides. While the situation may seem hopeless, homeowners should know that there are programs available to help them avoid foreclosure, find alternate housing, and treat their anxiety, stress, or depression. Recent changes to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) will make more people eligible for a loan modification which will permanently lower their mortgage payment. Bank settlements stemming from allegations of wrongful foreclosure filings have spurred a requirement for some of the top lenders to offer struggling homeowners options to prevent foreclosure, as well. In addition, housing counselors are available and trained to help homeowners find options suitable for their circumstances.
It's important to know, though, that while foreclosure can be a stressful and emotional time, it doesn't have to create despair or hopelessness. In fact, events such as these could create stronger families, a deeper commitment to overcoming challenges, and increased strength as you work toward a brighter future. For instance, some find that stress is relieved after they are relieved of debt after a foreclosure. Others are able to find suitable alternatives to foreclosure.
Create a positive mindset and become your own best advocate, learning your options and persevering. This will help you avoid stress as you continue to fight for your home. Take time out while you seek to save your home to enjoy your family, get some exercise, relax, and do things that make you happy. Above all, remember that you are not alone. Millions of homeowners have also faced foreclosure. Have faith that you are doing everything you can to save your home, while appreciating the people, love, spirituality, joy, and happiness that life offers.
Homeowners who are stressed or suffering from anxiety or depression should seek medical help and counseling. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline lists warning signs of suicide and hosts a suicide prevention hotline, 1-800-273-TALK, to help those in distress. Free foreclosure counselors are also available at Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA)
www.NACA.com and at the Hope Hotline: 888-995-HOPE and online at Hopenow.com.
Anna Cuevas, ex-bank executive turned homeowner advocate known as "America's Loan Modification Guru," has empowered and guided thousands of Americans in keeping their homes from foreclosure through loan modification self-advocacy. A popular blogger (askaloanmodguru.com), Cuevas has been called a "superhero of the loan modification industry" and has been nominated for CNN's Heroes. She is the #1 bestselling author of SAVE YOUR HOME Without Losing Your Mind or Money.