activism, human rights, politics, refugees

A man on fire: Australia’s hidden mental health crisis

Trigger warning: please take care of yourself and read with caution. The below content references torture, self-harm and suicide.

Yesterday, a man set himself on fire.

As many as 50 refugees on Manus Island have attempted suicide or self-harmed since the federal election. Mental health issues have been prevalent in Australia’s offshore detention centres for years, but according to refugees and advocates on the PNG island, May’s election result has triggered a complete mental health crisis.

Let’s think about this, statistically. At least 50 individuals have attempted suicide in just three weeks, with more than 70 isolated incidents reported as of the date of this post. That’s about three attempts on the island per day. If we were to look at those 70 incidents as a percentage given the 500 men living in the Manus detention centre, we are looking at (at least) a 14% rate of suicide attempts – in three weeks.

To give this context over one year, alongside general Australian statistics: suicide attempts are occurring on Manus Island at a rate that is 5000% higher than that in Australia, generally speaking. 5085.19% higher, to be specific.

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