Recent legal action resulted in urgent medical evacuation of a child in an unconscious state following a progressive social withdrawal and failure to speak, eat or drink. The child was unresponsive, dehydrated and at risk of death from the physical complications of this extreme state.
Medical experts noted there are no adequate medical or mental health facilities on Nauru to treat this condition. This outbreak raises serious questions about the impact of our offshore facilities for vulnerable populations and the capacity of the current system to respond adequately.
What is resignation syndrome?
Resignation syndrome is a rare psychiatric condition that presents as a progressive social withdrawal and reluctance to engage in usual activities such as school and play. Children may become isolated and appear depressed and irritable. They frequently resist others’ attempts to support or encourage them to engage.
As the condition progresses, the child may stop talking and isolate themselves in bed, and may stop eating and drinking. The most serious stage of the disorder is when the child enters a state of profound withdrawal and is unconscious or in a comatose state.
This appears to be a state of “hibernation” in response to an intolerable reality. They are unresponsive, even to pain. They appear floppy, without normal reflexes, and require total care, including feeding and intravenous fluids as they risk kidney failure and death from complications of immobility, malnutrition and dehydration.
Missy Higgins makes an impassioned plea for compassion towards refugees on Q&A. Post continues below…