Australia is in the tragic phenomena of Detention Centre Deaths in Custody. Five suicides in the last ten months. Over a thousand suicide attempts and thousands of self-harms among our Asylum Seekers. There have been two suicide attempts at Darwin Immigration Centre, last night and yesterday. There shall be more. One Hazara man suffered a heart attack following efforts to rescue him from his suicide attempt.
The answers in stopping these suicide attempts are not in diminishing the hanging points or in relying on a suicide watch, the answers lie in treating people with humanity, in assisting these folk in their rightful Asylum Claims, in allowing them unfettered contact with the Australian community, with various experts, with the media, and in ensuring they are not indefinitely detained in these unlawful facilities (detention centres).
The dramatic rise in self harm incidents is in itself not surprising, the fact there are self harm incidents is not surprising - people when pushed to the brink of despair will always in one form or another cry out in pain.
We have long warned of the rise of self harms, of mental breakdowns, physical breakdowns, of irreparable damage, of acute and abject clinical disorders, of the various categories of depressions, of trauma and multiple trauma, of suicide attempts and multiple suicide attempts - we have always warned of more detention centre deaths, and as a PhD researcher in Australian deaths in custody I have always warned there shall not only be detention centre deaths in custody however that there shall be post-release deaths and that they shall be of such number that it is shall be a huge tragedy, that there shall be more mental breakdowns, clinical disorders and attempted suicides and suicides - these are post-release, after the damaging detention centre experience - in terms of the equivalent periods during post release compared to detention there shall be ten fold the deaths - and these shall be directly related, and caused, by the immigration detention experience.
The Government shall be culpable as duty of care can be argued to extend beyond release and duty of care originates at the point of trauma, at the cause. We have a duty to acknowledge impacts and them Government cannot abrogate its responsibilities. There is a criminality within the practices of our Government
in the mistreatment of these peoples through a Gulag type experience kept almost clandestine from the rest of Australia.
There are high levels of unemployment in those released, horrific incidences of despair and suicide attempts among those finally released who were evidently damaged by the detention centre experience. The mere fact one is released does not
immediately subtract mental and clinical damage to the person.
There have been scores of suicide attempts in Australian detention centres - there shall be more. There shall be more suicide attempts and suicides post release.
Over a recent period of time I have released various leaked statistics of self harms, of medical incidences or suicide watches and of suicide attempts from Australian Detention Centres, of the training required by guards to 'cut down' with 'Hoffman knives' suicide attempts -and my experience and witness is the longer we incarcerate people in the manner the Australian Government is at this time, and with the treatment that appears apparent, and with the difficulties our Asylum Seekers endure without unfettered communication to other peoples it is clear that people break down and some will die in custody however they will break down and die post release in even greater numbers.
During the recent Christmas Island protests our despairing Asylum Seekers were burying themselves in shallow graves.
Many Asylum Seekers are coming out of the Australian Detention Centre experience worse than what they went in.
Gerry Georgatos, PhD Law researcher in Australian Deaths in Custody
Convener, Human Rights Alliance 0430 657 309