Parents Say Son Who Died by Suicide Tried to Contact Robinhood 3 Times

Panicked college student thought he had lost $730K
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2021 7:59 AM CST
Parents Say Son Who Died by Suicide Tried to Contact Robinhood 3 Times
The family's lawsuit says Robinhood used "aggressive tactics and strategy to lure inexperienced and unsophisticated investors."   (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

The parents of 20-year-old Alex Kearns say their son died by suicide because trading app Robinhood allowed him to access complicated financial instruments but didn't have customer support available when he thought things had gone terribly wrong. According to the family's wrongful death lawsuit, the college student tried to contact Robinhood three times after he mistakenly thought he had lost $730,000, but received only automated responses to his emails. "If he had been able to get a hold of somebody ... he would be alive today," father Dan Kearns tells CNN. "He's in a complete state of panic. He needed a little help. I think that's all it would have taken to calm him down."

Alex Kearns, who took his own life the day after receiving the notification from Robinhood about his options trades, left a note for his parents explaining his confusion. "It's almost like he martyred himself just to save us from what he thought would be a huge financial burden, which of course, isn't the case," his father says. Kearns was dead by the time the company sent an email explaining he might not owe any money at all. Former Robinhood workers tell CBS that Robinhood discontinued phone support because it couldn't deal with the volume of calls—and even when it was active, experienced brokers were rarely available to help. The company says it has changed its system to provide more voice support and stop inexperienced traders dealing in advanced options, though Dan Kearns says it still needs to do more to protect "immature novice investors" like his son. (More Robinhood stories.)

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