Following the alarm that was sounded by the network Vi Står Inte Ut ('We Cannot Stand It'), which works for the rights of unaccompanied refugee children, Swedish government authorities tasked with representing the rights of children have been at pains to investigate the matter and establish whether the children were in need of adequate care.
According to Vi Står Inte Ut, which recently campaigned for amnesty for underage migrants that have resided in Sweden for over a year, desperate refugee kids have turned to online forums to create "suicide pacts." Some claim that they would die anyway once they'd had their asylum applications rejected and were deported.
"Everybody we chat with says they do not want to live longer," Kinna Skoglund from the network told the Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet.
Nevertheless, psychologists who come into contact with underage asylum seekers see a clear link between a rise in depression, the number of suicides and suicide attempts following the recent toughening of Sweden's asylum law, which nonetheless remains among the least restrictive in Europe.
The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden's press officer Hans Reuterskiöld told Swedish news outlet The Local that there were worrying signs, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts, among the refugee children, suggesting that uncertainty regarding their future in Sweden aggravates the mental trauma they sustained before arriving in Europe.
"Last year, the Swedish Migration Board performed 3,400 write-ups. Once you are considered an adult, you lose your custodian and school networks. This means 3,400 [refugee children] are at risk now," Kinna Skoglund told Aftonbladet.
Today, 16 and 17-year-olds that are not considered eligible for asylum in Sweden but cannot to be dispatched immediately due to the lack of a processing system in their home countries can be granted temporary residency permits before being deported when they turn 18.
In 2016, Human Rights Watch criticized Sweden's treatment of unaccompanied migrant children, stressing a lack of adequate psychological care and long waiting periods.
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