Memorial service held for homeless deaths

More than 60 homeless people who died over the last two years were remembered today at a special memorial service.

Dublin Simon Community raised concerns over the short life expectancy of users and the physical and mental health of those struggling to survive on the streets.

The charity revealed the average age of the 14 women and the 48 men who passed away in recent years was just 40.

Chief executive Sam McGuinness said it was worrying that almost six out of ten of those were either living on the street or in crisis emergency accommodation.

“For this group of people, the average age of death was 38,” he said. “Frightening when one considers life expectancy in a developed country like Ireland is 77 years of age.”

The poignant memorial, at the Unitarian Church at St Stephen’s Green, also mourned a staff member and volunteer who died.

All of the 64 names were read aloud and a candle was lit in each person’s memory.

Simon, which works with almost 2,000 people a year, said the physical and mental health needs of homeless people were recently revealed in an audit.

Six out of ten had a serious diagnosed physical condition while over 20% have a diagnosed mental health condition.

Mr McGuinness said the main illnesses are reflective of a homeless lifestyle.

“We especially have a high number of people with respiratory conditions which isn’t helped, and is generally aggravated by nights spent out on cold, wet streets,” he continued.

“There are also a large number of people living with liver conditions and Hepatitis B and/or C. Both conditions are again a sign of the desperation of turning to drugs or alcohol when someone is experiencing vulnerability and desolation.

“Depression is the most diagnosed mental health condition among service users.”

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