Twenty-Three

The actual number is debated. Some estimates are as low as 13, others as high as 23. It depends on where the statistics are coming from, which country. Whether it’s “developed” or not. Etcetera, etcetera. Regardless, the suicide rate among divorced fathers, each and every day, is high compared to any other cohort.

DepressedDadITN
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A divorced man, whose wife has custody of children, if there are any, is eight times more likely to take his own life than a woman. If the marriage lasted more than five years, the likelihood of it actually happening increases. I wish that I could, but I don’t blame them. The societal stigma placed on divorced men is incredible. It is automatically assumed, especially when kids are involved, they did something to make their wives want to leave them. Only Atlas himself could hold that much weight but even then, be driven to his knees.

We all know people who are divorced. On occasion, you come across a couple that made a mature, mutual decision to separate. Those are rare instances at best. Usually the split comes down to bitter, even enraged arguments over who did what to whom and when. Did he cheat or did she? Was it a loveless marriage or so passionate it burned out too quickly? Did she drive them into debt or were his tastes too extravagant? Every story is different and we almost never get the entire picture because we only hear one side of the argument.

In the legal system, it typically doesn’t matter who was “at fault.” The entire thing is designed to be supportive of women. It’s an archaic method of determination that is rooted in pre-war, pre-feminist ideals. Before women were common in the workplace, it made sense that a man should have to support the family in a divorce. It was a very black and white process. Short of trying to kill her husband, the wife was protected in the courts. Not much has changed, unfortunately.

Where the system has failed to evolve is in the arena of the child’s best interest. Modern divorce requires modern examination. It’s possible to achieve this provided one has access to thousands of dollars to pay in legal fees. Because that process is not accessible for the average person, the system defaults to standard guidelines. Within those guidelines, men are cast in a light that is often jaded. Most men trying to pay legal fees on top of alimony or child support, or who are ordered by the court to continue paying mortgages and car loans aren’t able to do it all. It drives them into financial ruin.

Now, a man that has been forced into financial depravity is left in a position to defend his right to his children. Within the confines of poverty, it is difficult to provide all things required by a court, or demanded by the mother, to create an “acceptable” living space during visitation. So it’s back to court to determine whether or not he is an “acceptable” parent because he can’t afford an apartment in a safe neighborhood with two bedrooms. Nor can he afford to get clothes or toys for his children and so he is not “acceptable” and therefore loses visitation with his children.

See where this is going?

I won’t make apologies for taking this stance. I have a very deep understanding that every case is different. There are fathers that don’t deserve to see their children. There are mothers that don’t deserve to see their children either. The issue is the parents that are lumped into those categories under false pretenses. Just because two adults don’t get along, doesn’t mean those adults are bad parents. Due to the fact the system is already one-sided, who do you think ends up losing their kids more often? It’s not a difficult question to answer.

When I read about statistics surrounding divorced fathers related to suicide I am not the least bit surprised. It is both sad and sickening that a parent who is unhappy with the other parent is punished by not being able to see his children, solely because the mother feels betrayed. I personally experienced it, and am still experiencing that struggle. Every day. It is, to say the least, depressing.

It is even more disheartening to watch a child be manipulated to believe one parent is a horrible human being, simply because the other parent hates them. It’s no wonder so many fathers choose suicide to escape. After the financial ruin, after the emotional turmoil of a court battle, losing friends and family members along the way, listening to your own child regurgitate terrible things about you that aren’t true is enough to push you to a breaking point.

The next time you hear a side of a story of divorce, take a second to step back and examine the whole picture. That “dead-beat” dad your friend keeps complaining about may not really be so terrible. What’s the rhyme? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” There are two sides to every story, and in this case, words really do kill people. If you know someone struggling with this issue, let them know they can find help. There are lots of organizations such as The Fathers’ Rights Movement that are working to make custody issues more fair and balanced. Of course, never hesitate to refer someone to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. ┬áNo one should have to die because they can’t see their children.

 

 

 

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