Alex Kearns, a 20-year-old from Illinois, committed suicide last June after seeing an apparent negative balance of $730,000 on his Robinhood account, according to his parents. Now, they’re suing the stock-trading app, alleging wrongful death, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and unfair business practices, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
The popular trading platform, which says its mission is to “democratize finance,” drew widespread criticism and legal scrutiny last month for its decision to restrict trading of certain stocks popular among Reddit users amid an unprecedented surge in the price of Gamestop. But Kearns’ parents told news sources that the app pushed their son into making risky transactions, and only gave him a canned message when he asked about the six-figure loss. The day after the teen’s death, the outlet reported, he was effectively given the all-clear in a message intimating that he did not owe the vast sum.
In a statement, Robinhood said it was “devastated” about Kearns’s death. “Our focus has always been on breaking down systemic barriers to investing to help more people take control of their finances,” a spokesperson for the company said.
Some critics of the Robinhood trading app point out that the application makes risking investment too simple for novices investors without providing proper warning, and that it gamifies investing through the appearance of confetti’s similar to machines in a casino.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.