For thousands of fathers in America, Father’s Day was one of the few days this year they were able to see their children. For others, it was another day spent in a seemingly endless custody battle against a system that was stacked against them from the start. For far too many, that battle proved too much and their Father’s Day ended tragically in suicide. What should be a happy day to celebrate fatherhood and the important male figures in our lives, turns out to be one of the five holidays with the most suicide attempts in the United States.
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Throughout America, where suicides are at an all time high, men commit suicide 3.53 times more often than women. The age group most likely to fall victim are men from age forty five through fifty four. A recent study by the University of California, Riverside, found that divorced men were more than twice as likely as married men to take their own lives, while the suicide rate of women showed no variance between married and divorced populations. This should come as no surprise to any man who has endured the family court system and the bias it regularly shows against fathers
According to sociologists at the University of California, the divorce process really is so broken that it is leading to the deaths of thousands of fathers. As is the case with any raw data, it is impossible to give a conclusive answer as to exactly why divorced men are killing themselves in such high numbers. However, the sociologists who conducted the survey felt the reason was apparent. They wrote, “…In many jurisdictions in the US there seems to be an implicit assumption that the bond between a woman and her children is stronger than that between a man and his children. As a consequence, in a divorce settlement, custody of children is more likely to be given to the wife. In the end, the father loses not only his marriage, but his children.”
Another possible explanation is the isolation men feel as they get divorced. While women frequently maintain strong social ties and support networks, men do not always have a shoulder to cry on in tough times. Men often feel they have to project strength and stoicism, and consequently do not seek help in the form of therapy that they may desperately need.
Another Father’s Day has come and gone. Hopefully, yours was filled with love and joy. If you can identify with this article and fear that you may be at risk of suicide, the suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE is available 24/7. Your children love you, and you should never give up hope of gaining equal custody of them.