THE heartbreak of family separation is sending absent parents to an early grave, figures show.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) data shows that parents who leave their children are almost three times more likely to die early.
It was unearthed by Sunday Express staff who compared the number of Child Support Agency (CSA) cases closed after “nonresident” parents died with cases closed due to the death of the “parent with care”.
The figures show that since June 2003, 8,515 non-resident parents have died compared to 3,090 residents.
According to the information released under the Freedom of Information Act, 94.8 per cent of CSA cases involved a male nonresident parent. Despite a specific request, no causes of death were given.
Information on mental illness among non-resident parents was also unavailable.
Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers 4 Justice, described the figures as “alarming”. He said: “The department has a responsibility to conduct some meaningful research to understand what is actually behind these figures. “It is not enough to say we don’t know why they are this way; commission the research and get to the truth.
“And the truth may be that suicide and alcoholism is related to family breakdown.”
Mr O’Connor admitted to having suicidal thoughts during his own marriage breakdown.
“Since I began Fathers 4 Justice I cannot tell you about the number of cases I have dealt with of fathers who have thrown themselves in front of trains, thrown themselves off bridges; it is a litany of misery,” he said.
“There is no money being spent on fathers or men and one of the things we are calling for is a Minister for Men, to champion these kinds of issues.
“If you lose your children, you lose your home, you effectively lose your life.
“You will be hounded and pursued by this Government on the basis that you have no rights to your children in law, but you have a responsibility to pay.
“If you dare miss a payment, you will have your passport taken, you will be jailed, you will be punished in every way possible.”
Lib Dem MP John Hemming, chairman of Justice for Families, said: “These figures are very concerning and warrant further investigation.
“I will be writing to the Minister to request that they are looked into.”