Asylum Seeker Women in Australia-Run Christmas Island Attempt Suicide in Desperation

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By Reissa Su | July 24, 2014 1:11 PM EST

Asylum seekers in an Australia-run detention centre on Christmas Island attempt poisoning to end their lives. The Australian Human Rights Commission has confirmed that there have been multiple suicide attempts and self-harm incidents.

REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were sent back by Australia cover their faces as they wait to enter a magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle July 8, 2014.

According to reports, a document obtained by Fairfax Media contains details about the mental crisis with at least 11 women found to have used poisoning and asphyxiation after immigration officials refused to allow them in Australia.

One female refugee had reportedly placed a bag over her head three times and consumed half a bottle of detergent. The woman had used a broken mirror to cut herself.

According to Professor Gillian Triggs, who visited Christmas Island the previous week as part of the Australian commission's enquiry, said there were 13 mothers in detention who were being monitored for past suicide attempts. She said their conditions were "deteriorating rapidly." 

She said she and her team of healthcare professionals were aware of the reports. Asylum seekers on Christmas Island also confirmed the suicide attempts.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott from the University of Sydney's pediatrics and child health department said the women who attempted suicide had showed "extreme" signs of depression. She spoke to some of the mothers who had babies and found out they felt "life was not worth living."

Pregnant asylum seekers in Christmas Island pleaded with doctors to let their children be adopted by Australian families. According to reports, the pleas for adoption happened four months ago as asylum seeker women began to worry for the future of their children.

The asylum seeker women were concerned about the health of their children who developed skin infections, ringworm and weeping sores. When doctors spoke to the women, they raised the question of whether their babies can have a better life if they can be adopted by Australian families. They were concerned they will end up in the Nauru facility.

The Immigration Department has previously denied the claims and said the reports "are not correct." Recently, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told media that it is a practice of government to have no comment on reports of suicide attempts in detention centres. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer / )
Sri Lankan asylum seekers who were sent back by Australia cover their faces as they wait to enter a magistrate's court in the southern port district of Galle July 8, 2014.
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