An Afghan asylum seeker who died in a Darwin detention centre did not believe he had a future in Australia, a coroner has found.
Haidar Ali Ikhtiyar, 62, had begun to feel that he was old and felt “duped” by his wife into leaving “just so she could get rid of him” to take their four children to live with another man.
Mr Ikhtiyar died at Wickham Point Detention Centre on June 15 last year.
Processing at Christmas Island revealed the man had a long mental health history that included depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
A Hazara and a Shi’ite Muslim, Mr Ikhtiyar left Afghanistan due to problems with the Taliban, and on March 19 last year, after travelling from Pakistan to Jakarta, he boarded a boat with about 100 other people bound for Australia.
During the precarious trip, the engines failed during storms and the boat drifted helplessly until the Australian navy rescued it, Coroner Greg Cavanagh said in his findings, handed down on Monday.
The inquest, held last month, heard he did not talk to others in detention about self-harming, saying “suicide was against his religion and that he would not engage in it for fear of causing his family severe embarrassment”, Mr Cavanagh said.
But two weeks before Mr Ikhtiyar died, Serco client service officer Mehdi Jafari reported that he had asked other detainees how to suicide, but that report was not passed on.
“It is of serious concern that the report did not end up in the hands of the clinicians who were treating the deceased; there appears to be no explanation as to why it did not,” Mr Cavanagh said.
But he found this played no part in Mr Ikhtiyar’s death.
He was the first Hazara and the first Muslim to take his/her own life in an Australian detention centre.
Psychiatrist Peter Young told the inquest that Mr Ikhtiyar “received appropriate care to a standard greater than would a person in the Australian community who exhibited the same type and degree of symptoms”.
Psychologist Jagjit Ahuja “went out of his way” to ensure that Mr Ikhtiyar attended appointments and received his medication, Mr Cavanagh found, but was bothered by the lack of communication between the centre’s administration and treating medical personnel.
Mr Cavanagh found that Serco staff could not have stopped Mr Ikhtiyar taking his own life, that they did all they could to revive him when he was found, and that standard operating procedures were appropriate.
But he recommended that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Serco, and the International Health and Medical service examine the evidence of Dr Ahuja and Mr Jafari to ensure that relevant information be made available to treating clinicians of detainees in detention centres.