The statement below was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on October 31.
At 6.00pm Nauruan time, an Iranian asylum seeker attempted to hang himself from a light pole inside the detention centre. The man jumped from the pole with a sheet around his neck but was other asylum seekers quickly took his weight.
Asylum seekers had gathered around the pole appealing with the man, who was on the pole for around 15 minutes before he jumped. He was crying and saying, “I want to die,” and “I am tired of my life”.
Asylum seekers say that the guards at the detention centre were not prepared for such an incident and did nothing to assist until the man jumped.
After the man jumped, one asylum seekers was left bleeding from the mouth when he was punched by a security guard as the guard tried to push asylum seekers away from the injured man.
Around the same time, two other Iranian asylum seekers seriously self-harmed by cutting their hands, neck and head.
All three men have been taken to hospital. Their condition is not known.
The self harm incidents and attempted suicide which took place in front of the whole camp have left the asylum seekers distressed and distraught. The Refugee Action Coalition was told by one of those in the camp that “Everyone is crying and upset. This place is making people crazy.”
“These are just the latest incidents that reveal the crisis situation inside the Nauru detention centre. The toxic environment that was created inside Australian detention centres has now been re-created on Nauru. The risk is that it will spiral out of control just as it did at Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention Centre in 2011 and 2012,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“It is clear that neither the detention centre nor Nauru itself is equipped to deal with the scale of mental health problems that are being created by desperate conditions on Nauru. Just as under the Hoard government, the Gillard government will eventually be forced to bring mentally ill asylum seekers to the mainland for proper care.
“As long as there is no processing of people’s claims, the asylum seekers have no hope. The Minister can continue to turn a blind eye and wait for the inevitable disaster on Nauru or he can close it and begin processing all those people who have arrived since 13 August.”