Homelessness and Early Deaths

Homelessness Can Kill You

Homelessness: A Silent Killer (A research briefing on mortality amongst homeless people) is one of the most frightening reports ever released about those who experience homelessness.  First, it was released in England and the research concerns homeless citizens of the Crown in England.  Amazingly, it was also released on December 21, 2011 which in America is National Homeless Memorial day.  We mark the first day of winter with a candlelight vigil and we remember the people who died after experiencing homelessness. The report finds that on average homeless men lose 30 years of their life after a period of homelessness and homeless women lose 34 years. 

The report finds that a third of the early deaths are as the result of alcohol and drug addiction and the health affects associated with abuse issues. There is a pdf version of the report on the crisis.org website.  Homeless people are nine times as likely to commit suicide then the general public. Deaths as the result of traffic accidents are three times as likely, infections are twice as likely and falls are three times as likely among homeless people over the general population. The final summation of the report is the most frightening.

Being homeless is incredibly difficult both physically and mentally and has significant impacts on people’s health and well being. Ultimately, homelessness kills.

The study finds that four out of five individuals start using one new drug after becoming homeless.   The sleep deprivation, the unstable food situation, and the mental stress of living in shelters and on the streets take a toll on individuals.  I thought of this report after the deaths of Roosevelt Darby and Jesse Smith Jr. from the National Coalition both before their time.  If this report is true, this is a national health epidemic in every country with sizable and visible homeless populations.  Anything that takes 30 years off the life expectancy of a citizen needs to be moved up the priority list of problems to solve.  The report has recommendations for improving the health care system, which is a public system in British Empire.  The second recommendation is to institute a right to shelter, which we would certainly support for the United States.  Only a couple of cities in America have this right including New York (by court order) and Cleveland (by contract as a condition of receiving public money).  This is a health concern that we should address as we would legionnaire disease or Asian bird flu.


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