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Prison vigil as suicide body count rises

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Prison vigil as suicide body count rises

Prisoner advocacy organisation People Against Prisons Aotearoa will hold candlelight vigils this evening in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to memorialise suicide deaths in prisons.

Spokesperson Emilie Rakete says the suicide rate in prisons is six times higher than outside.

She says the recent death of 18 year-old Kaine Morell in Christchurch prison could have been avoided if he had been provided with the mental health care he needed.

Instead he was put into a so-called at risk unit, which is actually solitary confinement and seen as a punishment for speaking out.

"Until we overcome this lazy, life-threatening use of at risk units and solitary confinement as our initial response to mental illness and suicide in prisons, mental illness in prison is not going to go away, suicide in prison is not going to go away, and the body count is going to keep climbing," Ms Rakete says.

She says Auckland’s Mason Clinic shows the system does know how to deal with mentally ill inmates, and that standard of care needs to be implemented in all prisons.

The vigil in Auckland is at 360 Queen Street at 8.30pm.

In Wellington it’s on the waterfront, in Christchurch it’s in Cathedral Square, and in Dunedin it’s the earlier time of 8pm in the Octagon.

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