Thank you for using Just Answer. I'm sorry to hear of the financial troubles you're having. I've been there - and I sympathize.
I don't know what your circumstances are currently, but the best approach, if possible, would be to negotiate with your creditors to pay off these debts. Even if you settle with them to pay a portion of what is owed, and even if it is done in monthly installments, it will look better on your credit report that the debt was satisfied.
If you just let these debts go, they do drop off after about 7-10 years in most cases; the problem is that a lot of creditors aren't going to just let the money go - so they'll come after you and best case scenario, they put you in collections - worst case scenario, they sue you and get a judgment and then try to go after any assets you have and/or garnish your wages to satisfy the judgment.
A bankruptcy can wipe out the debts you are talking about - cable companies, utilities, leases, medical bills, etc. It won't (except it limited circumstances) wipe out student loans. The bankruptcy also stops the collection calls, because you can tell a creditor you have filed for bankruptcy protection. However, as you mentioned, once you file and the debts are discharged, you cannot refile for many years -so if you run up new debts, you'll have to find a way to pay them. And yes, a bankruptcy will hit your credit hard - a drop of 200+ points isn't unheard of - but if you've got this many outstanding debts already and they're in collections, the reality is your credit is already a mess, so a bankruptcy isn't going to hurt it much more.
My experience after my own bankruptcy was that my score climbed to almost a 700 within 3 years and I was able to get regular unsecured credit cards after about 12-18 months. Sure, the limits weren't as high as I had, but I was able to get them again. I leased two new cars at great rates about 4 years after I filed. I tell you this not as bragging, but to show you that you can come back from a bankruptcy if that you're only out. For me, the reality was I had more debt after my business failed then I knew I could ever make, or ever repay, so it was an easy decision. I didn't want to abandon my creditors, but I needed to rebuild my own life, too.
Every person is different and I can't obviously make the decision for you. However, there is no harm in talking to a bankruptcy lawyer about your situation and your options. Many bankruptcy lawyers offer free initial consultations with no obligation, too.
If you have additional questions or need clarification, please REPLY and I'll be happy to assist you further. Thank you.