A Nova Scotia father is desperately searching for his son, who cut ties with his family 12 years ago.

William Merrigan says he hasn’t heard from his son since he left home in 2001but now he has something important to tell him.

Marcus Merrigan was 28 years old when he left the Halifax area and his father, who now lives in Lower Sackville, says he struggled for years.

“He said ‘there’s nothing here for me. There’s nothing here,’” says William Merrigan. “It was really hard to get to know him, my own son. It was hard to understand him and things like that. So, as time went on, we went through a divorce. That really messed him up.”

Now remarried, Merrigan’s new wife has encouraged him to reach out to his estranged son.

“He gets so emotional,” says Elizabeth Ramsey. “He talks about him every day and he misses him so much.”

Before Marcus left, he told his father he was headed for Digby and mentioned he may eventually move to Yarmouth.

That was in 2001 and his family hasn’t heard anything about his whereabouts since.

“You start to check out and you’re trying to find out from his friends and you’re trying to check out everybody he knows and you think to see if they heard from him or anything, but nobody did,” says Merrigan.

Now, he is stepping up his efforts to find his son.

“A couple of family members passed on and it’s really important that he gets in touch with us,” he says. “I think he should.”

He also says he has no intention of interrupting his son’s life, but simply wants to reconcile the relationship before it’s too late. He has been attending support groups for families affected by mental illness, in the hopes it will help him better understand his son.

“Anyway, I just want to find out if he’s alright. I just want to find out so you know, maybe we can start somewhere…I love you and I miss you.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell