Friday, September 25, 2009

Male Suicide and the Family Court System

Male Suicide and the Family Court System

September 25th, 2009 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

"I know my father was a good man and a good father. ... He obviously reached a point where he could see that justice was beyond his reach and for reasons that only God will know, decided that taking his life was the only way to end his suffering," Ashlee White wrote. Ashlee signed the letter "In Memory of My Loving Father."

Those are the words of a 14-year-old Canadian girl writing to that country's prime minister. Her father had been denied access to her because he was unable to pay child support that was set at twice his take-home pay. Darrin White's anguish at losing contact with his daughter, and the frank indifference of the Canadian family court system to either his or her welfare led him to hang himself. As Ashlee said, justice was indeed "beyond his reach."

That justice is beyond the reach of many fathers is one of the main reason this blog exists; it's one of the reasons for the astonishing growth industry called 'fathers' rights.' Here and in many other places are chronicled the countless injustices done to children and their fathers in the name of a mythology created over the past forty years. That mythology holds that fathers are indifferent to their children at best and dangerous to them at worst. It holds that even the most caring father is incompetent to do the simplest task relating to children.

This piece, by the always thoughtful and balanced feminist, Wendy McElroy, deals with another, largely unseen aspect of injustice in family courts - male suicide. Men in this country and others are four to five times as likely to commit suicide as are women. And it turns out that the anti-male bias of family courts plays a significant role.

Study's from a number of countries bear this out. As McElroy says,
Statistics from Ireland and the United Kingdom indicate rates of male suicide as high as five times that of women. Indeed, a recent study found that suicide was the leading cause of death for Irish men between 15-34 years old.

The research also points to a probable cause. According to sociologist Augustine Kposow of the University of California at Riverside, divorce and loss of children is a factor. "As far as the [divorced] man is concerned, he has lost his marriage and lost his children and that can lead to depression and suicide," Kposow advises.

The Australian study's suggested reasons for some of the suicides include "marriage breakdown."

"There is evidence to suggest that many men sense they are being discriminated against in family court judgements," the study says. Cut off from their children, divorced men experience heightened "frustration and isolation."

At this point, I'd like to remind readers of what I've written about before. Nature provides a physiological attachment between parents and children. When a woman is pregnant, both she and the father undergo dramatic increases in the levels of the hormones prolactin, cortisol and oestradiol. Among many mammal species, including humans and primates, and among almost all bird species, those hormones are what connect parents to their offspring. They are what make adults set aside their own interests in favor of their offspring's. Survival is perhaps the most powerful motivation any individual has, but so strong is the connection those hormones create in parents that it can displace even the need to live. That connection is the reason that adults will do virtually anything, including fighting to the death, to care for and protect their offspring.

Let me suggest then that, when that most basic of connections is threatened or destroyed by a force larger than any single person - a force like the family law system, for example - it can have devastating consequences. If a lioness is willing to die protecting her cubs against hyenas, might not a human father die to maintain the same connection to his child? To me, the two look eerily similar.

Whatever the case, read McElroy's piece.

Thanks to Jeremy for the heads-up. » Blog Archive » Male Suicide and the Family Court System.

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