Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Man in suicide bid at detention centre

June 23rd, 2010

AN ASYLUM seeker attempted suicide in Darwin Detention Centre yesterday.

It is understood the man tried to hang himself.

He was discovered by one of the fellow detainees, who saved his life.

NT police were alerted to an incident at the centre at 5.29am, and St John Ambulance paramedics rushed the man to Royal Darwin.

Immigration Department national communications branch manager Sandi Logan yesterday said the man was being observed in hospital but had no physical injuries.

"This was a self-harm incident - we don't disclose details," he said. "He's receiving appropriate care, including mental health support."

The man was released from hospital in the afternoon and returned to detention.

Police spokesman David Harris confirmed police attended, but said it was a matter for Immigration as it was under their jurisdiction.

When asked why police were called to a medical incident, he said: "We have a responsibility to respond to incidents that might be of concern to the coroner."

Trouble has been brewing recently at Darwin Detention Centre. The man is one of 31 Burmese asylum seekers who have been protesting for more than a week, holding a hunger strike.

One member had earlier been taken to RDH and was then returned to the detention centre.

The president of the Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia, Kyaw Maung Shamsul Islam, said the men were upset because other asylum claims had been processed much more quickly.

He said the men had been in detention between eight and 11 months so far, while other claims had been processed within three months.

Mr Logan said refugee applications always took some time while checks were carried out, and that some cases were more difficult to process than others.

Mr Shamsul Islam said fear for their families' wellbeing was fuelling the men's desperate frustration.

"(Their families) could be nearly dead and nobody would help them," he said.

"They're worried about their children."

Readers seeking support and information on suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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