“He would be alive today”: Family shared how their son tried to contact Robinhood before he took his life

Before taking his life, Alex Kearns first tried to get in touch with Robinhood customer support — unfortunately, nobody responded.

  • Alex Kearns felt horrified and confused when he saw that he had a negative account balance of over $730,000.
  • Dan and Dorthy Kearns, Alex’s parents, explained that the 20-year-old had repeatedly tried and failed to get in touch with Robinhood to clarify his account balance.
  • After not hearing back, Alex Kearns took his life.
  • “If he had been able to get a hold of somebody… he would be alive today,” Alex’s father told CNN Business.

Alex Kearns took his life after Robinhood led him to believe that he owed over $730,000.

In June 2020, 20-year-old Alex Kearns died by suicide after thinking that he had a negative cash balance of $730,165 on Robinhood. According to CNN Business, at 11:01 p.m. on June 11, Robinhood notified Alex that his account was restricted. A few minutes later, he was told that he was required to purchase over $700,000 in shares. What is more, CBS News reported that at 3:26 a.m., he was sent another automated email saying that he must take “immediate action” and pay over $170,000 in just a few days.

Confused and afraid, Alex tried to get in touch with the company several times.

Since the company did not have any customer service phone number, Alex emailed the support address that night and the following morning. The 20-year-old wrote, “I was incorrectly assigned more money than I should have, my bought puts should have covered the puts I sold. Could someone please look into this?” Instead of receiving the support he needed, he was sent an automated message that read: “Thanks for reaching out to our support team! We wanted to let you know that we’re working to get back to you as soon as possible, but that our response time to you may be delayed.” Several hours later, Alex had taken his life. On the following day, Robinhood reportedly sent the following email:

Great news! We’re reaching out to confirm that you’ve met your margin call and we’ve lifted your trade restrictions. If you have any questions about your margin call, please feel free to reach out. We’re happy to help!

In an interview with CNN Business, Alex’s parents commented on the death of their son.

Commenting on his son’s inability to get in touch with customer support, Dan Kearns said: “If he had been able to get a hold of somebody… he would be alive today.” Unsurprisingly, the Kearns family is suing Robinhood for their son’s wrongful death. “He shouldn’t have been allowed to trade these complicated options in the first place. He had no training, no income, no qualifications, to make those sophisticated trades,” Dan added.

I lost the love of my life. I miss him more than anything. I can’t tell you how incredibly painful it is. It’s the kind of pain that I don’t think should be humanly possible for a parent to overcome.

Dorothy Kearns

According to CBS News, Alex wrote the following note before he took his life:

How was a 20-year-old with no income able to get assigned almost $1 million worth of leverage? The puts I bought/sold should have cancelled out, too, but I also have no clue what I was doing now in hindsight. There was no intention to be assigned this much and take this much risk, and I only thought that I was risking the money that I actually owned. If you check the app, the margin investing option isn’t even ‘turned on’ for me. A painful lesson. F*** Robinhood.

Last week, Robinhood announced that it has made new changes.

The company has made changes that, according to CNN, “include new financial criteria and revised experience requirements for new customers seeking to trade advanced options strategies and plans to expand that to other situations”. In addition to this, they have changed their customer support services by escalating requests from some options traders and providing live voice support for customers who have open options positions. Despite these changes, the Kearns family believe that the Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev has not done enough. More specifically, they believe Robinhood must provide additional phone support.

I don’t think he’s made adequate progress to protect immature novice investors like my son.

Dan Kearns

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