To Be Or Not To Be

I don’t recall what “class” it was in, or what we were discussing, but during one of my rehab stints, where most of the clients were street folk, someone asked, “How many of you have ever considered suicide?”  Every hand in the room went up.

By the book, i.e., risk factors, street folk are a very high risk population but getting firm stats on a transient population is like trying to count mosquitoes in a swamp.

Stories like this, alas are far from uncommon.   (“Youth commits suicide in New York City homeless shelter“)

The American Psychological Association asks … Where Is the Research on Homeless Persons and Suicide?.

“Drawing upon our collective, albeit anecdotal, clinical experiences, we have found that most of the homeless persons we evaluate acknowledge having suicidal thoughts or plans during some stage of their painful odyssey. Far too many, whether or not they are in formal treatment, have made serious attempts to kill themselves. Nearly all meet the classic criteria that place them into that nebulous category of being a high suicide risk: social isolation, serious mental illnesses, active substance use, extreme poverty, and previous attempts. But our work engages only the survivors. Also important is the larger challenge of adequately assessing the prevalence of suicide among homeless persons, whose desperation frequently goes unrecognized and whose actual cause of death remains unclear.”

Of course, some might say that “choosing” street life is a slow form of suicide.   So, what if  it’s not really a choice, like when there are long waiting lists and onerous procedures to “qualify” for additions treatment.   Is it then a slow form of  “manslaughter”?



About Drakakis

Street Poet scribbling to your tired, your poor, your huddled masses; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, the homeless, tempest-tost ...
This entry was posted in Addictions, Gov't Policy, Health & Welfare, Suicide and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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