The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on March 7.
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The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) has been informed by asylum seekers inside the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) that two Iranian asylum seekers attempted suicide this morning.
Both men attempted to hang themselves in the same room at the same time before Serco staff removed them. After the men were taken to hospital, other asylum seekers in the centre commenced protests by chanting for their release from detention.
DASSAN spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom said: “Urgent intervention is required to stop the epidemic of self harm that is occurring inside NIDC. People are self harming at an alarming rate and there will be a death in NIDC if the [Immigration] Minister [Chris] Bowen does not intervene.”
In the past three weeks in NIDC one man attempted to kill himself by swallowing a light bulb, one man attempted to hang himself with a shower curtain and there have been a number of hunger strikes. The centre saw dozens of suicide attempts throughout 2011.
Dahlstrom said: “Mandatory detention does not work. It does not stop desperate people coming to Australia seeking safety, it is expensive and inhumane. Asylum seekers should be taken out of these factories for mental illness and placed in the community."
Both men are believed to be in the Royal Darwin Hospital.