Unlike in the medieval times when the punishment for bankruptcy was death, in the present times, thanks to bankruptcy laws, debtors simply have to file for bankruptcy and have the option of the erase some of their debt as well.
While personal bankruptcies might be the result of medical expenses, there are some who have to file for bankruptcy due to extravagant credit card bills as well as large mortgages and large payments on expensive cars.
Students filing for bankruptcy is also not unheard of since in order to consolidate a student loan about 1% of the American Students have been known to follow this procedure.
There are certain debts in the US that you can not written off no matter how hard you try, specifically child support, spousal support as well as tax debt. But some like credit card bills, medical bills and unsecured loads are allowed to be erased off.