Young asylum seeker took his life at Australian immigration detention
Almost since being taken into immigration detention in 2013, Karami, the asylum seeker who killed himself inside the Australian-run regional processing centre on Nauru on Friday, had over years consistently asked for medical intervention to arrest his deteriorating mental health. This article was written by Ben Doherty and Saba Vasefi from The Guardian.
“The thought of suicide doesn’t ever leave me. I am suffering intensely every day,” the former dentistry student wrote in one plea to see a doctor.
The 26-year-old Karami died by suicide inside his tent in the RPC3 camp on Nauru on Friday morning. Recently married, he had been held on Nauru, along with his mother and 12-year-old brother, for five years.
Karami had a background of torture and trauma. A member of Iran’s Kurdish ethnic minority, which faces systematic persecution in that country, he had been kidnapped as a 10-year-old boy and held for three months, threatened every day he would be killed. Psychiatrists identified him as “being severely traumatised”.
From his time inside Australia’s immigration detention system – first on Christmas Island, and then on Nauru – Karami’s extensive medical file is littered with requests for appointments with psychiatrists and psychologists and charts his downward spiral to death.
In one example in 2014, he filled out a client medical request form to medical services provider IHMS, begging to see a psychiatrist. He said he could not escape thoughts of suicide.
“I want to see a psychologist, not a nurse,” he wrote in halting English, “I have severe mental problems to the point of thinking of suicide.”
In Persian, he continued “I am suffering from severe mental illness. I feel absolutely terrible. I am going to go mad from overthinking. Please arrange a psychiatrist meeting for me as soon as possible.” Across dozens of pages of request forms and assessments, referrals and clinical notes, Karami’s worsening condition is laid bare. Acknowledging his traumatic past, psychiatrists reported a “decline in coping strategies” exacerbated by his long-running detention, uncertainty over his future, and concern for his brother and mother.