Saturday, 22 January 2022

20-year-old trader dies by suicide

Photo: Reuters UK / File

NEW YORK: On the small sticky note that 20-year-old Alex Kearns left on his bedroom door was an ominous message saying to turn on the computer.

Daniel Kearns powered up his son’s laptop in their home in Naperville, Ilinois. Within seconds, a four-paragraph letter flashed on the screen. “If you’re reading this, then I am dead,” the note started. 

It was less than 24 hours after Alex had checked his account at the wildly popular trading app, Robinhood. In his note, he said he thought he had quickly racked up a negative $730,165 cash balance. But Alex may have misunderstood the Robinhood financial statement, according to a relative.

The free-trading app Alex was using has become a popular entry point to the stock market for first-time investors. It has grown from 1 million users in 2016, to 10 million at the start of this year, with a loyal following on social media. On one Reddit forum, Wall Street Bets, traders often joke about major losses on Robinhood and post screenshots of their gains.

Over the weekend, Brewster took to social media to find answers and in the process warned others about the pitfalls of day trading. The events show the risk of big losses that can come with complicated trading instruments such as options.

“This is investing, this isn’t a game. It’s people’s lives,” Brewster said.

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