Denmark: Asylum seekers attempting suicide in order to be accepted

According to an anonymous official at the integration ministry, who daily handles applications from rejected asylum seekers, suicide attempts are a decisive argument when deciding to give humanitarian residency permits.

According to recent statistics by the Danish Refugee Council, since 2001 the number of suicide attempts among Danish asylum seekers have tripled.

Peter Engholm Jensen, who has seen several examples when he was head of the asylum center at Kongelunden, says it is problematic because suicide attempts continue to be a last resort that asylum seekers follow in desperation to get humanitarian residence permits. Residents of the center say that it helps others in their attempt to get a residence permit when it says that there was a suicide attempt. It is a cry for help when they attempt to commit suicide at ten to twelve when they have an appointment at twelve. They don't want to do it, they want to get a residence permit. But, he says, what starts as a strategy can end in chronic illness. There's no motivation to fight against it.

Head of the asylum department by the Danish Red Cross, Jørgen Chemnitz, has similar experiences. He stresses that it's not an issue of a planned strategy, but rather a desperate cry for help, that for many asylum seekers ends in serious mental disorders. In the worse cases, with death as a consequence.

He says it starts with a simulation, but it ends in a serious reality. These aren't people who trick and cheat, but rather people in deep distress and powerlessness, who use the only means they have.

Søren Krarup of the Danish People's Party doesn't think that the increase in suicide attempts should change the regulations regarding residence permits. He says it is the asylum seekers themselves who bear the responsibility for getting seriously mentally ill while they wait in Danish asylum centers.

He says that if a suicide attempt is a method which rejected asylum seekers use to get their will then it is certainly a dubious suicide attempt. He says he is upset at the people who refuse to go home when they are rejected. They drive themselves and their children into mental illness.

One example of such a case is a woman from Iran who got a residence permit for humanitarian reasons in 2005 on the grounds that the ministry stressed that she had psychotic symptoms, that she had tried to commit suicide by hanging two times since the summer of 2004 and that due to this she had been confined to a psychiatric department.

Source: Politiken (Danish)

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