An Indigenous prisoner has taken his own life in his cell at Casuarina Prison.
Prison officers found the 32-year-old man, who is a father of two young children, unconscious in his cell at about 1.30pm on Sunday.
“Officers and prison medical staff provided first aid before paramedics arrived by ambulance,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.
“The prisoner was declared deceased at the prison.
“There were no suspicious circumstances.
“As with all deaths in custody, WA Police will provide a report to the coroner.”
It is understood the man had been in and out of Banksia Hill Detention Center from a young age.
The West Australian has also been told he had been held in the SHU — the special handling unit, which has been described as a “prison within a prison” — in the lead-up to his death.
National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project director Megan Krakouer said the McGowan Government “has to ask itself why this State has the nation’s highest prison suicide rate of First Nations people”.
Restorative justice advocate Gerry Georgatos said: “They key message that I always tell everybody – is that if you believe in people long enough they will believe in themselves.”
“That is a major way forward in preventing this from happening,” he said.
“For any person to take their life in a custodial setting, everything must’ve seemed to bleak. And that needs to be avoided, we’ve got to shine a light to hope and avoid the compounding bleakness of their prison setting.”
Just last week, a coronial inquest was held into the death of young Aboriginal man Jomen Blanket, who took his own life inside his cell at Acacia Prison in 2019.
Several disturbing details emerged, including that he had tried to take his own life 10 times before he was successful.
Mr Blanket had also started giving away his possessions and had told others about his intentions.
On the morning of his death, Mr Blanket was being escorted back to his cell when he requested the prison’s counseling services — but he changed his mind almost immediately and walked away.
The last time he was seen alive, he was waving goodbye at the door of his cell.
Worried, the prison officer who escorted him attempted to telephone the prison counseling service, but no one from that team was in the office as they were at a staff farewell party.
WA Prison Officers’ Union secretary Andy Smith said any death in custody was an incredibly hard on staff and that when prisons were short-staffed, officers who were committed to preventing self-harm were put under strain.
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