Suicide and self-harm prevention for people in immigration detention

Nicholas G Procter, Diego De Leo and Louise Newman
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10804
Published online: 16 December 2013

Suicide is the leading cause of premature death for people in the Australian immigration detention network

In May this year, the Commonwealth and Immigration Ombudsman released a long-awaited report into suicide and self-harm across the Australian immigration detention network.1 All available evidence points to the conclusion that suicide is the leading cause of premature death for detainees across the network. Between 1 July 2010 and 31 December 2012, there were 11 deaths in immigration detention. Five are confirmed suicides.2,3

  • 1 School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 3 Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.

Competing interests:

Nicholas Procter has received grant funding and sitting fees from the Department of Health and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. He is a member of the Immigration Detention Health Advisory Group (Mental Health Subgroup) and former member of the Minister’s Council on Asylum Seekers and Detention. Diego De Leo has received grant funding and sitting fees from the Department of Health. He is a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council. Louise Newman has received sitting fees from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and is a member of the Immigration Health Advisory Group. Nicholas Procter, Diego De Leo and Louise Newman are all former members of the Steering Committee for the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Own Motion Investigation into Suicide and Self-harm.

  • 1. Commonwealth and Immigration Ombudsman. Suicide and self-harm in the immigration detention network. Canberra: Commonwealth Ombudsman, 2013. (accessed Jun 2013).
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  • 7. Department of Health and Ageing. Fourth national mental health plan: an agenda for collaborative government action in mental health 2009–2014. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2009. (accessed Jun 2013).
  • 8. Kleinman A. Patients and healers in the context of culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
  • 9. Freeman H, Stansfeld S, editors. The impact of the environment on psychiatric disorder. London: Routledge, 2008.
  • 10. Bertolote JM. Suicide prevention: at what level does it work? World Psychiatry 2004; 3: 147-151.
  • 11. De Leo D. DSM-V and the future of suicidology. Crisis 2011; 32: 233-239.
  • 12. Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. ACHS National Safety and Quality Heath Service Standards. 2012. (accessed Jun 2013).


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