On World Suicide Prevention Day, the campaign group say the government has ignored repeated warnings that separated dads are not only a critical at risk group, but that government policy has put them at risk by denying them access to their children in the family courts, which in turn is causing severe emotional distress.
The group say that the Government, the Office For National Statistics and the Samaritans have failed to conduct any meaningful research into the suicide rates of separated dads involved in family court proceedings or establish the trigger factors for these deaths.
F4J say the outcomes have been catastrophic for fathers and their children.
Not only is suicide the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, but separated dads are three times more likely to die after separation than mothers according to data from the Department for Work and Pensions.
This was first highlighted by the Daily Express and Fathers4Justice in 2015.
In addition to this over 100 dads are believed to have killed themselves because of demands from the Child Support Agency.
Latest data from the Office For National Statistics published this week shows that in 2015, divorced men were close three times more likely to take their own lives (27.4 per 100,000 compared to 9.6 per 100,000 divorced women).
It’s unclear why it’s taken two years for this information to be published.
The ONS say, “Since around 1990, men have been at least three times as vulnerable to death from suicide as women. Research by Samaritans suggests that this greater risk is due to a complex set of reasons, including increased family breakdown leaving more men living alone; the decline of many traditionally male-dominated industries; and social expectations about masculinity.”
“They have seen their jobs, relationships and identity blown apart.”
“Relationship breakdown can also contribute to suicide risk. The greatest risk is among divorced men, who in 2015 were almost three times more likely to end their lives than men who were married or in a civil partnership. According to research by Samaritans.”
“Divorce increases the risk of suicide because the individual becomes disconnected from their domestic relationship and social norms. In addition, within western societies there is a strong cultural emphasis on achieving a strong and happy marriage, and those who divorce may experience a deep sense of disorientation, shame, guilt and emotional hurt.”
Fathers4Justice say that on average they are notified of three to four suicides a month.
They say male suicides are significantly under reported because of cultural and religious taboos, and because families do not want to be tainted by the shame of suicide, which leads many deaths to be incorrectly recorded as “accidental deaths” or “deaths by misadventure”.
Said F4J founder Matt O’Connor, “It’s interesting to note that it has taken the ONS and Samaritans two years to publicly say what Fathers4Justice said in 2015: that separated dads are three times more likely to die than other men and women.”
“We are in the midst of a suicide epidemic that is a national scandal. Based on our casework, we do not believe the tiny recorded drop in the suicide rate reflects the true numbers of fathers taking their lives. We believe the cases we see are the tip of the iceberg.”
“We remain deeply concerned about the impact of government policy on separated dads and their failure to properly assess or research the impact on this at risk group.”
“We call again for the government to appoint a Minister For Men and Boys to coordinate a response to this public health emergency.”