Quarter of young homeless have tried suicide

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The Independent Online
A quarter of young homeless people have attempted suicide in the last year, according to a new mental health survey.

The survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that young homeless people are also twice as likely to suffer psychiatric disorder as those who are not homeless. The disorders they suffered from were also likely to be more severe and persistent than disorders among those with a home.

Only 15 per cent of those with a current psychiatric diagnosis have ever had psychiatric help.

Over half of the 161 people questioned had experienced severe parental neglect or abuse in childhood and 40 per cent had spent time in care. Three times as many of the parents of homeless young people had received psychiatric treatment, mainly for alcohol abuse, compared with the parents of those who were not homeless.

The survey follows last week's Budget which changed benefits to under- 25s living in rented accommodation. The Mental Health Foundation says it is feared that the changes, which mean housing benefit will only meet the cost of shared accommodation, will lead to an increase in the number of young people who rely on the benefit becoming homeless.

June McKerrow, director of the foundation, said: "Our research clearly shows that young homeless people are vulnerable to mental health problems and some are so desperate about their futures that suicide seems the only answer."

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