A senior Brit civil servant says that teenagers who become 'Neet' - expanded as not in education, employment or training - may have a one in six chance of dying within 10 years.
Jon Coles, director-general of schools at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, says that youngsters who become Neet face not just difficulties and hardship, but "real dangers and a downward spiral" which can lead to them dying "very, very young".
According to him, there is a "social cost" of being outside the education and training system.
He based his arguments on the findings of anecdotal research carried out in a city in the North of England he had recently visited.
"They had looked back a decade and they had examined what had happened to the long-term Neets of 10 years ago, where they were now and what had become of them," the Daily Express quoted him as saying.
"They found a number of interesting things, but they had found one profoundly shocking thing, which I still find profoundly shocking today, and that is that of their long-term Neet of 10 years ago, those who had been outside the system for a long period of time, whether because they were permanently excluded or simply because they had dropped out at the end of compulsory schooling and had not got into anything else, 15% of those young people of 10 years ago were dead by the time that the research was being done," he added.
Coles hoped that the figures were not representative of the whole country.
He, however, added that for youngsters, being Neet had taken them "into a real danger and into a downward spiral which ultimately led to them dying very, very young."
According to him, it proves that education can be a "matter of life or death".
Coles's comments were made at an education forum in central London last month.
Evidence from the British Birth Cohort Study suggests that youngsters who are Neet between the ages of 16 to 18 are at greater risk of depression and poor health by the age of 21.
A DCSF spokeswoman is of the opinion that the research could not be seen as representative of the whole country.
She, however, added: "It is clear that young people who are Neet are at greater risk of poor health and negative outcomes in later life, which is one of the key reasons we see reducing the Neet numbers as such a high priority."