Dramatic increase in Manus Island suicide attempts

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There's been a dramatic increase in suicide attempts among aslyum seekers on Manus Island and some say Australia's election is to blame.

Since the election last month there has been 70 attempts of suicide or self-harm reported.

"The mental health crisis on Manus Island is deteriorating day after day. Highly depressed refugees are attempting suicide and self harming. It's an epidemic," says Shamindan Kanapadhi, an asylum seeker on Manus Island.

Many saw the election as a chance to freedom but Scott Morrison and the Australian Coalition were returned to power. Many on Manus Island were hoping to resettle in New Zealand if Australia's Labor Party came to power.

The Labor Party was prepared to accept New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees.

But Labor's shock loss means that prospect is over and hope is fading too.

"We were really anticipating there would be a new Government which pledged to accept the New Zealand offer to resettle 150 refugees. And it was a huge disappointment for us," said Kanapadhi.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs says they have access to health, welfare and support services.

But 12 people have died on Manus Island and Nauru since Australia's offshore detention programme began and advocates say with suicide attempts increasing, it won't be long before the next.

"Unless something changes, it's a matter of time until someone is successful," says Ian Rintoul from Refugee Action Coalition.

There are 900 asylum seekers remaining on Manus Island and Nauru who tried to reach Australia by boat.

The United States agreed to take 1200, but only 415 have gone. New Zealand's is the only other offer and Australia's Government will not accept.

"That offer is sitting there for the Australian Government.... We would hope Jacinda Ardern would repeat that offer and indicate the Labour Government in New Zealand's intention to increase that offer," said Rintoul.

In the meantime, desperation on Manus is building and some see death as the only escape.

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