Wednesday 17 January 2018

One in three of homeless people attempted suicide

Brother Kevin Crowley
Brother Kevin Crowley

Rachel Lavin and Eilish O'Regan

One-in-three homeless people who took part in a health survey said they had tried to take their own lives.

And more than half have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, the report by the Health Service Executive (HSE) revealed.

More than 600 homeless people aged 18 or over in Dublin and Limerick cities were surveyed by the Partnership for Health Equity in September 2013.

The HSE report found that while much has been done already to improve care and access for homeless people there is an urgent need to step up supports.

More needs to be done to improve their poor health, particularly mental health and addiction, which are a barrier to getting out of homelessness.

The homeless group surveyed were mostly men, Catholic, single and under 45.

The vast majority were unemployed and lived on social welfare payments. Many cited family problems,drugs and alcohol addiction for contributing to their homelessness.

Over half reported mental illness and more than a third had self -harmed. Half of those reporting a mental health diagnosis had attempted suicide

When compared to a similar survey in 1997 and 2005, the homeless are now more likely to be diagnosed with ill health.

More are using health services and most have seen a GP or nurse in the previous six months. There are also more homeless with a medical card and they are more inclined to attend hospital A&Es.

The findings of the survey were released as Brother Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Centre in Dublin made a direct appeal to the Government to tackle the homeless crisis.

The centre is now feeding some 800 people a day which is "huge," he stressed adding: "The big problem I can see at the moment is the housing situation."

Brother Kevin visited the new factory-made modular houses houses for the homeless, which he described as fabulous.

"This is a short-term solution to make sure that in future that the proper housing will be made available for the homeless," he said. "The situation is serious at the moment."

Irish Independent

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