Homeless people have an average lifespan of just 42

Just how vulnerable homeless people are is highlighted in a report which found the average age of death among those living on the streets is 42 years.

Homeless people have an average lifespan of just 42

Among homeless women, the mean age of death is even lower, at just 38. Among homeless men, the mean age of death is 44.

Of 140 deaths among the homeless population over a four-year period, 16 occurred on the streets.

The relatively young age at which many of those living on the streets die is in contrast to average life expectancy among the general population — 75 years for men and 80 for women.

The percentage of homeless people who die as a result of drug and alcohol addiction is also far higher than in the general population, at 30% compared to approximately 7%.

One of the study authors, Dr Joe Barry, said it was widely acknowledged that the issue of addiction among the homeless needs to be addressed.

Dr Barry and his colleague Dr Jo-Hanna Ivers of the Institute of Public Health, Trinity College Dublin, collaborated with Bernie O’Donoghue Hynes of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive in conducting the study, ‘Mortality Amongst the Homeless Population in the Dublin Region’.

Through visits to homeless hostels, the coroners’ offices and homeless agencies, they drew together data showing:

  • 140 deaths among homeless between 2011 and 2014.
  • Nine deaths among homeless people aged 18 to 24 — seven men and two women.
  • 12 deaths among over 65s who were homeless
  • 16 died on the streets; 67 in hospital; and 41 in homeless services

Dr Barry said the report, to be presented today at the Irish Street Medicine Symposium in UCC, contains draft recommendations, including the need for better recording of deaths among the homeless population not just in Dublin, but nationwide.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney and GP and paralympian Dr Austin Carroll are among those addressing today’s symposium at UCC’s Western Gateway Building.

Department of Housing figures for August show 4,248 homeless adults.

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