Charities call for changes after suicides among young asylum seekers

A number of charities have come together to call on the Government for extensive change to supporting asylum seekers and refugees after it was revealed that 11 young men had taken their own lives. 

A letter to Nadine Dorries, the minister for suicide prevention, asking for an urgent inquiry into the death as well as changes to how these deaths are recorded and dealt with, was signed by 47 charities, including Da’aro Youth Project

Benny Hunter from the Streatham-based charity said that he believed these deaths were the tip of the iceberg, and fears that the true number of suicide amongst young asylum seekers is much higher as coroners are not required to record nationality or immigration status of care leavers.

He said: “We would like for the Government to be able to provide publicly available data about these deaths. 

“If they don’t have that data, then they need to put in place systems to provide that data, and I think that they would have a legal requirement to do that because they have a requirement to protect children in care and care leavers and they also have a requirement to prevent suicide.

“The number that we’ve identified as having died, would mean that this group are much more likely to commit suicide than the general population and so there needs to be a particular strategy in place to protect and safeguard these young people beyond the general strategy that the government has around suicide prevention.” 

At present deaths of children in care must be reported to the Department of Health and Social Care but the death of care leavers do not.

The letter also calls for local authorities to be alerted to the risk of suicide amongst asylum seekers and receive specific trauma enforced training. 

An inquest held over the death of Osman Ahmed Nur, 19, concluded that Nur had suffered from torture and trauma after a difficult journey to Britain and feared that he would be sent back to Eriteria. 

Nur was friends with three others, Filmon Yemane, 18, Alexander Tekle, 18, Mulubrhane Medhane Kfleyosus, 19, who also took their lives over a 16 month period. 

Hunter said: “If the government can’t conduct an inquiry and if they’re not willing to look into this then there will be no opportunity to learn lessons from those deaths.” 

SWL reached out to Nadine Dorries for comment but did not receive a response.

Featured image credit: Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees

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