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One Death Per Week In Multnomah County Homeless Population

OPB | May 10, 2013 5:25 p.m.

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A new study out of Multnomah County Friday shows that deaths among the homeless averaged at least one per week in the county during the year 2012.

The data were culled from state and county medical examiner reports.  The report was published by Multnomah County, the city of Portland and the homeless advocacy group, Street Roots.

Of the 56 people who died, the youngest was 21, the oldest 72.  The average age was 46.  

Most were men.  About a quarter of those who died did so from natural causes.

18 percent died by suicide.  And a majority of the total deaths were determined to be accidental - mostly drug or alcohol overdoses.

Dr. Paul Lewis is a Deputy Health Officer for Multnomah County.  He says for him two major things jumped out of the data.

“One is the young age, the average age of 46 and the other is the preventable nature of the deaths.  And we think that 46 is too young and this many accidental deaths is too many.”

Israel Bayer, Director of Street Roots, says he hopes the study will help inform policy decisions relating to homelessness, housing and health care.

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