Kamloops Daily News – Feb. 5, 2003


A Kamloops man who recently committed suicide was angry and disheartened after a bitter custody dispute over his two-year-old son, says a group advocating rights for non-custodial parents.

Mark Edward Dexel, 42, was found dead in a Kamloops motel Jan. 24. It’s believed he hanged himself.

Todd Eckert, president of Parent and Child Advocacy Coalition, said a suicide note was found with Dexel. In it, he outlined his concerns with family court and “the adversarial system of justice”.

Eckert explained it had been more than a year since Dexel had seen his young son. In fact, just days before taking his own life was the one-year anniversary.

“I stand no chance of seeing (my son) ….this is too much for me,” Dexel wrote in his suicide letter.

The couple had been in and out of court for more than a year, after Dexel’s girlfriend applied for sole custody. Eckert said he ended up consenting to the court order because he was tired of the system. “He wanted to be a father all along. He wrote her letters after that asking for some access and was denied,” Eckert said, adding an application for mediation was denied.

“The stresses of the adversarial system on justice, the harassments of the courts and the absence of his child combined to form a lethal mixture of depression that enticed him to take the quick exit”, he said.

Coroner Ian McKichan is awaiting the results of toxicology tests to confirm whether alcohol also played a role in Dexel’s death.

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Mark’s Web Site


On Thursday, January 23, 2003, another BC father, Mark Edward Dexel, 42, took the only exit fathers are left with when dealing with the most corrupt justice system ever known in the history of Canada, he committed suicide.

This latest tragedy has shocked many non-custodial parents among the local support group Parents of Broken Families and other non-custodial parents groups across the nation. It was a grim reminder of the same tragedy that led Darren White, another member a similar group, to take his own life back in early 2000.

The day before, on Wednesday, Mark Dexel told his girlfriend and others among the group that he was going to Vancouver to visit his folks.

Instead Mark hung himself in a motel in Kamloops.

The RCMP found Mark on Friday with a note in which he blames the judges and lawyers and the justice system in general. That same Wednesday, it was the one-year anniversary since Mark had seen his now almost 3-year old son, he told to a member of the group. Mark also said he had to appear in court on January the 29th, the last of a series of court appearances, spanning a full year that yielded no relief to his quest for him to be involved in his son’s life.

The stresses of the adversarial system of justice, the harassments of the courts and the absence of his child combined to form a lethal mixture of depression that enticed Mark to take the quick exit to the torture, an experience many non-custodial parents are put through at the hands of the divorce industry.

Since Mark was quite aware of the introduction of Bill C-22, a projected legislation that makes the system more adversarial and offers no hope for the future, this thought was most likely in his mind at the time.

Mark was a loving father of five children and had all reasons to live since he was actively involved in the lives of them who were from previous relationships. He had amicable arrangements with their mothers to see them. He made his living out of running his own business building log furniture and as a computer salesman. However, he had to give up his work to be able to cope with the stresses and time demands of the litigation.

All who knew Mark described him as an affable man who frequently showed up in court to support others. He was quashed by an irresponsible comment from a judge who in a previous proceeding told Mark that any access was up to his ex-wife and her lawyer, an unscrupulous solicitor who had managed to have all his access suspended. Even though the judge may have been right and legally allowed to make such a comment, it is a reflection of how out of control and out of touch with the needs of children and parents this corrupt system is. Nevertheless, Mark was still trying to go back to court to have it restored.

If we consider that the rate of suicide increases 2-fold for fathers following separation or divorce, it can be easily understood how stressful this experience was for this caring parent.

Parents, grandparents and children rights advocates are blaming the government for all those deaths by suicide that have occurred as a result of the inaction to terminate the present system. It only comes to mind that if changes had been implemented back in 1998, when they were recommended in the Joint Senate Committee’s report titled “For the Sake of the Children”, Mark’s life would have been spared and five children would still be enjoying the love and care of their father.

Furthermore, the government has already been presented with studies linking the adversarial system of justice to suicides by parents going thought it, thus making it inexcusable for the government not to stop the bloodshed and the pain to families, especially since these tragedies are being repeated daily in many places in Canada.

Bill C-22 is being perceived among non-custodial parents as a fraud and these days is the source of a lot of anger against the Minister of Justice for his betrayal. On this sad occasion groups across Canada may rally behind the grief experienced by Mark’s family, his children and friends, all of whom are being negatively touched by this tragedy.

To Mr. Cauchon: We grandparents, parents, second wives and children’s rights organizations all across Canada say: Stop playing politics with the souls and welfare of children and their parents. Close the divorce racket!

For further information, please contact: Todd Eckert (250) 554-1418 or 250-314-7722
President Parent and Child Advocacy Coalition
Past President of Parents Coalition of British Columbia
Member Parents of Broken Families
And spokesman for the family and personal friend of Mark Edward Dexel
(With permission from Mark’s Family)