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Medical examiner rules immigrant detainee’s death a suicide

November 26, 2018

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on the death of a Russian man in immigration detention in Tacoma (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death of an immigration detainee in Tacoma a suicide.

The office said following an autopsy Monday that 40-year-old Mergensana Amar died by hanging. He was taken off life support at a hospital Saturday after attempting to kill himself on Nov. 15.

Activists who monitor the Northwest Detention Center say he had been on a long-term hunger strike. But ICE says Amar began consuming fresh fruit and meal replacement shakes Sept. 19; his hunger strike officially ended Oct. 16.

Amar was due to be deported to Russia this month. Activists say he told them he was afraid to return, though he offered few details about why.

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10:10 a.m.

Authorities say asphyxiation is considered to be the preliminary cause of death for a Russian asylum seeker who died after a suicide attempt at an immigration jail in Tacoma.

In a statement Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 40-year-old Mergensana Amar was taken off life support Saturday. The agency said Amar attempted to take his own life on Nov. 15, was hospitalized and lost brain activity Nov. 18.

Activists who monitor the Northwest Detention Center say Mergensana had been on a long-term hunger strike. But ICE says Amar began consuming fresh fruit and meal replacement shakes Sept. 19; his hunger strike officially ended Oct. 16.

The agency said it didn’t previously announce that he had ended his hunger strike because he threatened to stop eating again if it did so.

Amar was due to be returned to Russia this month.

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7:28 a.m.

A Russian asylum seeker who had been held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma has died.

The Olympian reports the Pierce County Medical Examiner confirmed Sunday that 40-year-old Amar Mergensana died Saturday at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma.

An examination is set for Monday.

Mergensana had been on life support at the hospital after a reported suicide attempt on Nov. 15, the News Tribune reported.

Activists who monitor the privately owned immigration facility say Mergensana had been on a long-term hunger strike. They had called for his release from detention.

The man had been held at the detention center since about January.

After the reported suicide attempt, Tacoma police responded to the detention center. Staff members told officers that Mergensana had accepted liquid food earlier that day.

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