Journalist and prisoners’ rights activist Peppi Azzopardi has shared a graphic photo showing self-harm by Colin Galea, the young prisoner who committed suicide in his cell this month.
Azzopardi said Galea had slit his wrists shortly after he found out he had been sentenced to prison for a second time.
“The research is clear. Self-harm is a big problem in prison and the risk of suicide increases with self-harm,” Azzopardi said.
“[Galea] was so scared of returning to prison that he overdosed two days before he was sent there and ended up in hospital. These were clear signs that Colin was crying out for help.”
GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW:
Azzopardi, who has been in contact with Galea’s family, said the young man was scared of returning to prison because he had firsthand experience of the “cruelty” within its four walls.
“He had tried to kill himself in prison two years ago and he was a suicide risk when he was readmitted. However, they couldn’t give a toss.”
Galea committed suicide at Kordin this month, prompting the Home Affairs Ministry to set up an internal inquiry, chaired by psychiatrist Anton Grech, to look into the assessment of the mental and physical health of both new and longstanding inmates.
The PN has reacted to the suicide by calling for the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri and prison director Alex Dalli.
Azzopardi and university dean Andrew Azzopardi have gone a few steps further, presenting a 100-point plan for Kordin which includes treating every single prisoner as a potential suicide risk.
“Leaving your family and your freedom will automatically install in people a tremendous sense of anxiety that can prompt desperate behaviour,” they argued.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone about mental health, please call 179. Alternatively, visit www.kellimni.com to get in touch online.
Do you think prison should be reformed?