Suicide and violence 'are taking toll of homeless'

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(First Edition)

MORE THAN 600 homeless people died on the streets of England and Wales last year, according to research into the risks of sleeping rough, released yesterday.

Based on coroners' records, it shows death rates among homeless people are three times higher than for the rest of the population. The homeless are also:

150 times more likely to be killed in an assault;

34 times more likely to kill themselves;

Eight times more likely to die of an accident;

Three times more likely to die of pneumonia.

Researchers for the charity Crisis studied 86 death certificates in inner London. Their report, Sick to Death of Homelessness, says 65 per cent of the deaths were probably preventable if people had proper housing and good health care.

The average age of death was 47, compared with an average life expectancy in Britain of 73 for men and 79 for women.

Suicide was the biggest cause of death, quoted in 23 per cent of cases. Alcohol was the main cause of death in 5 per cent of cases.

A total of 225 deaths of homeless people were recorded by coroners in England and Wales over the past year, the report estimates. It says the real number is likely to be 617, as most deaths are not recorded with the coroner.