Honolulu Medical Examiner Warns Homeless Dying Early

Jun 5, 2019

Credit Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Living on Oahu's street leads to early death, the Honolulu medical examiner said Wednesday in releasing a report analyzing the deaths of 373 homeless people over a five-year period.

The average age of death among those without shelter was 52.6 years, according to the medical examiner, Dr. Christopher Happy. That average is well below the life expectancy of 78.6 years in the U.S. and more than 80 years in Hawaii, the medical examiner noted.

"It’s clear from the data that we gathered that living on the streets leads to an early death,” Happy said.

 

The causes of the deaths among the homelesss between 2014 and 2018 ranged widely, among them homicides, drugs and infectious diseases. The location of their deaths also spanned the island, including Kahala Post Office, Liliha Public Library and a bus stop near Wahiawa Botanical Garden.

The most common cause of death among Hawaii's homeless population are methamphetamine related issues. The second most common cause of death is due to heart complications and diseases, which includes cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and heart attacks. Deaths related to Blunt Force injury include car accidents and any type of head trauma. 

Investigating how the homeless die has been difficult because they often lack social and family ties, the medical examiner said.

The statistics are a "sobering wake-up call, and even for the shelter-resistant population, we need to get them into supportive housing as soon as possible and not allow them to die needlessly," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a news release.

Homeless Cause of Death on Oahu 2014-2018

Homeless Location of Deaths on Oahu 2014-2018