Police watch a group of around twenty protesters occupy Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's electoral office, demanding the end to the policy of offshore detention of asylum seekers, in the Sydney suburb of Edgecliff, Australia, October 14, 2015. Pressure was mounting on Turnbull to address the alleged mistreatment of asylum seekers being held in offshore detention centres amid a string of embarrassing revelations surrounding the camps. Asylum seekers have long been a contentious political issue in Australia, although it has never received anywhere near the number of refugees currently flooding into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. Successive Australian governments have vowed to stop asylum seekers reaching the mainland, turning boats back when it can and sending those it cannot to detention in camps on Manus island in Papua New Guinea, and in Nauru. Reuters/David Gray

Self-harm by asylum seekers at Australian detention centres has reached a critical point, according to figures by the immigration department accessed under freedom of information laws. Reportedly, there were 706 cases of self-harm at Australia’s on-shore detention facilities in the 12 months leading up to July 2015.

The records obtained from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection comprised of incidents over the one year. They spoke of depression and desperation within the community resulting out of violence at the onshore and offshore detention facilities of Australia.

The incidents also raises concerns over Australia’s tough border protection laws, also condemned by the United Nations.

The AAP reported that, the on shore detention centres have more cases of self-harming acts than on Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus islands. At the Nauru detention facility, 188 incidents of self-harm have been reported, while at the facility on Manus island the number stands at 55.

The self-harming activities, according to the Fairfax Media, included self-poisoning, bashing their heads against the walls and even dousing their bodies in boiling water. Another man, who was stopped from harming himself, reportedly, said, “I want to die, let me die.”

In an incident in October 2014, a detainee wrapped himself in toilet paper and looked for a lighter in an apparent attempt to set himself on fire, following a dissatisfactory meeting with his lawyer.

The Greens have called for an immediate action by the federal government in response to the situation.

“The current situation is unacceptable and, as a strong and compassionate people, we could be doing so much better,” the AAP quoted Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as saying. “The fact that children are so traumatised that they're resorting to shocking acts of self-harm is appalling.”

According to an Immigration Department spokesman, any detainee who attempts to self-harm or self-harms at the detention centres is given immediate medical attention and counselling. He added that the medical services provided on Nauru and Papua New Guinea are equivalent to health services available in Australia.