62-year-old Afghan born man Haidar Ali Ikhtiyar died at the Wickham Point Detention Centre in Darwin on June 15 last year.
A coronial inquest heard that two weeks before he died a Serco officer at the centre had been told that Mr Ikhtiyar had asked other detainees how to suicide.
In his report, Northern Territory Coroner Greg Kavanagh said it was of serious concern that the Serco officer had not passed on these concerns to clinicians who were treating Mr Ikhtiyar.
Professor Louise Newman from the University of Melbourne has conducted extensive research on the mental health challenges facing asylum seekers in immigration detention.
She says the case of Mr Ikhtiyar highlights broader systemic problems across the immigration detention network.
“There are very complicated systemic issues in the management of such vulnerable people and we need to remember that Serco or any of those related companies are not mental health professionals”, Professor Newman said.
“Detention centres are not hospitals or places that are therapeutic. In fact, they contribute to mental deterioration.”
“We also have very limited mental health services and pressure on those services and those doctors and clinicians not to release people or to recommend that they be placed in proper mental health facilities which is what they need,” Dr Newman added.
“It’s also governed and managed by the Department of Immigration who are also not mental health professionals and have virtually no expert advice given to them about these sorts of situations”.
Professor Newman says health services run for asylum seekers should be run by the Federal Health Department to ensure that the detainees receive appropriate care.