Four Homeless Deaths in one night!
Atlanta’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported 4 homeless deaths, including 2 women and 2 men, all found Saturday morning in Atlanta, after a rain followed by temperatures below freezing.
The newspaper reported that all were found in separate locations, but three were in the same police precinct. One was found on a back porch of a townhouse, one on English Ave, one in a park and one under a bridge.
The paper quotes Anita Beaty, of the Task Force for the Homeless, “I’ve never heard of that (4 dead in one night). This is the worst tragedy for us. This is exactly what we’re working so hard to avoid. People who live outside more than they live inside are more fragile physically. It wears down their immune system.”
“The most difficult to find are often the most fragile. If they are sick or have been outside for a very long time, sometimes they are disoriented and don’t know what to do and where to go for help. It’s a terribly sad day and a terrible comment on our society that people would live that way and be forced to die like that,”
It is this situation that the homeless in our county find themselves in. It appears that the situation of our homeless has been even worse because, unlike Atlanta, there are no large shelter operations in Cobb County, what little shelter we have are full, and our local authorities seem to have confisticated and hauled off much of the winter gear these poor people had.
Here are some statistics from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office in the category of Homeless Deaths for 2006, the latest year reported (Fulton County includes Atlanta):
SECTION IX: Special Topics
Table 30: Deaths Among the Homeless
Certified (AJ) deaths among the homeless, manner and cause code by sex and race*, 2006 (n=32)
Notice that there were only 2 hypothermia-Exogenous exposure deaths in 2006, whereas we had 4 in just one day last week (subject to autopsy).
Fulton County’s 32 homeless deaths in 2006 break down like this:
Accident: 13 deaths 41% of total (includes hypothermia)
Homicide: 2 deaths 6% of total
Natural: 12 deaths 37% of total (Notice only 1 death due to drug/alcohol)
Suicide: 3 deaths 9% of total
Undetermined: 2 deaths 6% of total
2005 data showed 27 deaths, 2 from hypothermia, no homicides.
2004 data showed 52 deaths, 2 from hypothermia, 6 homicides. 2004 was definitely a bad year, with 24 listed as natural causes.
Keep in mind these totals do not include deaths that occur under medical care, nor those that die in secluded corners, including dumpsters that are never found. Various homeless shelters report much higher numbers. In fact, I talked to the Cobb Medical Examiner’s office today and they do not keep any count for statistics on homeless deaths because there is no credible way to determine if someone that dies is homeless. They have no count breakdown for homeless deaths in 2006. Other than Dominic, they have no record of any others recently.
According to a study by the National Health Care For the Homeless Council, titled “Premature Mortality in Homeless Populations: A Review of the Literature:”
The Atlanta studies engendered a fierce debate over the number of homeless deaths that occurred in Fulton County. While the ME found an average of 40 deaths per year, shelter information from Atlanta identified 188 deaths during 1991.
Are you warm tonight? Stay warm. Consider donating clothes, sweaters, blankets to the homeless. They won’t be warm but maybe they won’t freeze to death.