New suicide attempt rocks Darwin airport's refugee detention centre

February 15, 2012

The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on February 16.

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A Tamil asylum seeker has been taken to hospital after attempting suicide by hanging in the early of hours of this morning, at the Darwin Airport Lodge detention facility.

Around 12.30am, the man, who has been in detention for 27 months, was found by fellow asylum seekers hanging by a bed-sheet noose in a secluded part of the facility.

Serco guards seemed not to be carrying the special Hoffman knives used to cut the nooses. He was still breathing when his fellow asylum seekers finally managed to get him down and untie the noose, but detainees were distressed about the time it took to get him down.

The man was one of two Tamils in the Airport Lodge who had been granted a bridging visa to be released about three weeks ago. But the day before he was due to be released, he was told that his visa had been cancelled on security grounds

It is not clear, at this stage, if this referred to his bridging visa being cancelled or his substantive protection visa.

“This man is another victim of mandatory detention and the mis-management of the bridging visa release system,” said Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul.

"To snatch away the offer of a bridging visa in these circumstances amounts to institutional cruelty.

“The arbitrary decisions about who [is] and who is not being released is significantly adding to the mental anguish of asylum seekers. His friend had tried to hang himself, around four months ago, and now he is left in detention limbo. What possible reason is there for him to be in detention for 27 months?”

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