Half of lonely people think no one will notice if something bad happens to them, experts say

Around nine million people in the UK say they often feel lonely, with many struggling to make long-lasting connections to others.

The British Red Cross, who commissioned the study, says that almost a fifth of adults don't have friends that they can turn to in times of need.

According to the poll of 4,000 adults, 53 per cent of lonely people said that they worried no one would be there to support them if something bad happened to them.

One in nine didn't feel like they had anyone in their lives who they could rely on in a crisis.

Zoë Abrams, executive director of Communications and Advocacy at British Red Cross said that "loneliness and social isolation doesn't discriminate".

"Life circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, meaning it can happen to anyone, no matter your age or background.

"We all need someone to turn to in a crisis, but the findings of our research suggest that there are many people in our communities feeling they lack meaningful, human connections."

The research also found that two-thirds of people who felt lonely felt like that even when they were surrounded by other people. More than a third didn't know how to cope with their loneliness.

Earlier this year, a study found that the average Brit felt lonely for one week of every month, with social media and work commitments fuelling our sense of isolation.

And typically, the average person in this country feels that they only have two people they can really confide in.

While loneliness can make us feel pretty awful, it can also have pretty serious ramifications for our physical health.

According to the Campaign To End Loneliness, loneliness has been found to speed up cognitive decline in older people, with one study concluding that it can increase your risk of developing clinical dementia by 64 per cent.

Increasing the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, as well as disability, loneliness has also been found to increase your risk of dying early by 26 per cent – that's as much as obesity and smoking.

So this isn't just a social problem – it's a potential health crisis.

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