Yesterday afternoon, as thousands protested the conditions and existence of detention, there was an attempted suicide in Harmondsworth detention centre.

Reports from detainees inside say that an Iranian man, who speaks no English, cut his wrists and lay down in the courtyard outside, falling unconscious.

He had been protesting as an individual for 4 days – refusing to eat or drink – and 3 days ago he requested to be transferred to a room to be with someone who also speaks his language, and was very upset when staff ignored this. With no access to translation, detainees are forced to rely on other detainees, who may also speak little English, in order to understand daily life in detention.

Detainees report that staff members were aware how upset he was – unable to talk to anyone and scared to enter his room – and that he was refusing to drink or eat. Staff failed to act in response. One officer told a detainee that they were aware how worried about his case the man was, yet no officers asked him how he was, or came to check on him before he attempted suicide.

After seeing the man unconscious, detainees pressed the buzzers for help, but no staff answered, which detainees say wasted a lot of time. Detainees managed to find staff who went away to bring more officers, making everyone go inside, but detainees watched nurses treat him and then take him away. At night-time, staff came to his room and took his bedsheets, and the little possessions he had. Detainees do not know where the man who attempted suicide currently is.

Commenting on the lack of support for those who are suffering physically and mentally, one detainee said: “If a detainee wants their medical report they have to pay £10, and they can refuse to check someone because they say we only have 2 doctors here – how can 2 doctors check 600 people in the centre?”

Yesterday, 190 detainees in Harmondsworth announced the beginning of a hunger strike, refusing to eat lunch, and 50 occupied the yard in protest of their inhumane conditions.

One detainee said: “We all will continue this protest, but we are hopeless that the government will do something for us, because inside the centre we can’t trust any of the staff members, their behaviour is like they are kings and we are slaves. If we ask for something for help they can’t behave helpfully… We are struggling with the non human behaviour of staff. There are so many detainees here for more than 10 months. Day by day everyone is becoming mentally ill. Why someone spend their precious time of their life for nothing.”