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'Truly shocking': Call for better mental health supports as 31 homeless people die in Dublin this year

Since the beginning of July, 10 homeless people have died in the capital.

Civic Offices, Dublin
Civic Offices, Dublin
Image: Shutterstock.com

THERE HAS BEEN 31 recorded deaths within homeless services in Dublin in 2020, new figures released by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive show. 

The figure represents an increase on previous years – 34 homeless individuals died in Dublin in 2018, and a further 35 people died last year.

Since the beginning of July, 10 homeless people have died in the capital.

The figures follow the “unprecedented” death of five homeless people Dublin in one week in late July. 

In a report to Councillors, the DRHE said the cause of death of 24 individuals who died this year is “unknown”. 

It is the Coroner’s Court that determines cause of death and often this can take a long period of time to verify, the DRHE said. 

Following the spike in deaths in late July, “intensive liaison” between the DRHE, Tusla and the HSE took place, according to today’s report. 

“Both the DRHE and the HSE are deeply saddened by what has occurred and will continue to work together to develop a deeper insight into these cases and identify any gaps in services,” DRHE Director Eileen Gleeson said. 

Gleeson said special clinics by the Ana Liffey Drugs Project are to be expanded over the coming weeks, with a particular emphasis on harm reduction.

Death in service reviews are also being conducted by the relevant services, she said. 

In response to today’s report, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) called for better mental health support for people living in shelters and on Dublin’s streets. 

“Some residents of the units where the recent deaths have occurred are traumatised by what they witnessed and they were moved to alternative accommodation without any mental health supports,” the charity said. 

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CHH CEO Anthony Flynn described today’s figures as “truly shocking”. 

“100 individuals have died in service in the last 2.5 years. With many deaths being declared as unknown. This frankly isn’t good enough,” he said. 

This cannot become acceptable, appropriate wrap round supports need to be put in place for all of those who are vulnerable with appropriate mental health supports on entering homeless services. 

It was reported last week that the number of people in Ireland in emergency accommodation has fallen for the fifth month in a row, but charities are warning this welcome trend may be reversed following recent action by the government.

In June, 8,699 individuals were in emergency accommodation – a reduction of 177 on the figures from May. It continues a trend seen in recent months during the pandemic, beginning with March seeing the numbers of people homeless dropping below 10,000.

Last month, there were 6,046 adults and 2,653 children in emergency accommodation. Within these figures were 1,159 families. 

In a separate quarterly report from the Department of Housing, it showed that 1,467 adults and their dependents exited homelessness in April, May and June. 

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