At least one asylum seeker per day tries to commit suicide or inflict serious self-harm, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported, citing the Migration Board. Depression, anxiety and fatigue are cited as the most common reasons.
Attempted suicides among asylum seekers have doubled. In 2017, accommodation centers across the country reported over 300 cases in which an asylum seeker acted self-destructively or threatened to inflict serious bodily damage, which is more than double compared with the 140 cases in 2016, the Helsingin Sanomat daily reported.
Between 35 to 40 percent of these cases were classified as serious suicide attempts, according to Helsingin Sanomat. Furthermore, damage was inflicted in half of the cases. Using drugs or cutting oneself were the most common ways of self-harm. Every tenth case concerned verbal threats of committing suicide.
Olli Snellman of the Migration Board says that asylum seekers are worse off mentally than before.
“The situation is serious, and people are feeling increasingly worse. Self-harm has become dramatically more common,” Snellman told national broadcaster Yle, referring to the proportion of asylum seekers trying to maim themselves.
In 2017, the total number of asylum seekers in Finland fell from about 40,000 to 20,000, making the increase in self-injury even more conspicuous, Snellman pointed out.
“It’s about despair, anxiety, stress, depression and fatigue at the reception centers,” Snellman argued.
Many have had their asylum applications rejected, which brings an air of dejection to the reception centers, with many residents anticipating a negative decision. According to Snellman, interest in taking part in, for instance, language teaching has also fallen dramatically. In 2017, the Migration Board raised the approval rate to 40 percent from 27 percent in 2016, amid “deteriorating security conditions” in parts of Iraq and Somalia, Yle reported.
Earlier, the Migration Board had reported as many as 700 cases of suicide attempts and self-maiming, but later corrected itself and scaled down the figure to slightly over 300 due to “faulty calculations.” Snellman stressed that the figures only cover accommodation centers and could possibly be even higher, once the deportation centers are also included in the statistics.
However, no suicide attempt has led to a fatal outcome in 2017, the Migration Board reported, which collects the reports from accommodation centers across the country. Information on asylum seekers’ behavior is collected to facilitate reception centers’ planning work and methodology.
In 2017, Finland received just over 5,000 asylum applications, the majority of them from Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis.