At least nine refugees attempted suicide after Australia’s ruling conservative party won a surprise victory in the country’s election over the weekend, reports CNN.
Human rights activist Behrouz Boochani, who is currently being detained at the Manus Island Detention Center off Papua New Guinea, told CNN that seven people in his detention center and two people in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea attempted to end their lives, but no one died.
There is no evidence of a direct link between the election and the suicide attempts, though the activist said many refugees had high hopes for a change of government. Australia’s opposition Labor Party said it would work with New Zealand to resettle some of the detained refugees if they won the election, according to CNN, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal Party won a third three-year term on Saturday.
“We people on Manus and Nauru were really hopeful that if Labor wins the election they will accept the New Zealand offer and set us free finally,” Boochani told CNN.
CNN reports that almost 1,000 refugees that had attempted to gain entry into Australia are being held in offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
Read More: The U.N. Says Australia Is Responsible For the Remaining Asylum Seekers on Manus Island
Australia’s government has not publicly responded to the news, but Manus’ police commander David Yapu said only two refugees had attempted to commit suicide on Manus, not seven, and that it was wrong to draw any linkage between the two events. “We can’t jump to the conclusion that it is related to the election as long term depression is a factor,” he said, according to CNN.
Boochani told CNN that police may not be aware of all the cases, according to CNN.
Boochani won a literary prize for a book he wrote on WhatsApp documenting his experience in detention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
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