Another suicide attempt made at Guantanamo

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A terror suspect attempted suicide at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and was being treated at detention camp's new psychiatric ward, officials said Tuesday.

The man was saved by guards within seconds of the attempt in his cell late Monday, Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said.

There have been 24 suicide attempts by 17 individuals since detainees began arriving at the remote naval base in eastern Cuba in January 2002, officials said. None has been successful.

Johnson refused to provide further details of the suicide attempt but said that "most of them are by self-strangulation."

He said that the detainee did not suffer "significant injury" and remains under observation in a psychiatric facility, which opened March 23.

The new ward has 20 detainees staying there, he said.

Officials have denied that the 35-bed ward was created solely in response to suicide attempts, saying it is part of planned improvements to health care.

Military doctors are treating about 80 detainees for mental health problems, with 60 percent receiving medication, officials said.

Human rights groups have asked whether the interrogations were contributing to the suicide rate.

The U.S. government says the roughly 660 detainees from 42 countries are suspected of links to al-Qaida terror network or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime. None have been charged or permitted lawyers while they are held indefinitely and interrogated.

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