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Suicide watch

According to World Health Organisation figures for each 1 per cent rise in a country’s unemployment rate there is a 0.8 per cent rise in the rate of suicides.

Someone losing their job can lead to them becoming homeless. And, as we know, austerity measures in the EU are leading to job losses and increased homelessness across the continent. Communities and Local Government homelessness figures out earlier this month showed the number of homeless households in England had gone up 9 per cent in the second quarter of this year from the same period last year.

Mental health is a well-known cause for homelessness and homeless can have a serious toll on people’s mental health.

A European-wide homelessness umbrella group is so concerned about the rise in homeless and so potential increase in suicides it is renewing a call for the European Commission to create an EU action plan on homelessness, which gives adequate attention to mental health problems.

The European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, along with Mental Health Europe, say more than 50 per cent of the homeless population in EU countries suffer from serious mental health problems. It points to a study from Denmark showing homeless men there were found to be 7.3 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population, and homeless women were 14.8 times more likely to do so. 

The call went out on September 10, World Suicide Prevention Day, in a press release saying: ‘The helplessness and desperation felt by a person willing to take their own life is unquantifiable, and real action must be taken to ensure that all people have their most basic needs met, such as that of a stable home, in times of crisis or otherwise.’

Suicides are about people, not numbers. They say.

Quite right.

But how many more people are interested in those severely affected by austerity, the homeless and the mentally ill, than the debts that have to be cleared, or the latest gross domestic of a country? Or, at least, how many people in power are more interested? And even if they were interested, would they do anything?

Probably not. And would the action plan have much effect? Maybe.

And will the European Commission listen? Probably not. But you never know. I’ll watch the space. Meanwhile, we are likely to see homelessness figures continue to rise and so probably suicides too.

Maria Nyman, MHE director, said: ‘If we are to talk numbers, by 2020, suicides are estimated to contribute more than 2 per cent to the global burden of disease,’ said Maria Nyman, MHE Director. ‘Surely, in a cash-strapped Europe dependent on healthy workers, that ought to mean something.’ Surely. Let’s hope someone or something can stem the rate of homeless, as well as suicides. As we can all but hope there will be enough jobs to go round by 2020 too.


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