Transgender army private Chelsea Manning reportedly attempted suicide last month — her second attempt to take her life since beginning her 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth all-male military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, for furnishing 700,000 classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The 28-year-old prisoner said she first tried to end her life in July. A prison disciplinary board ruled in September to place her into a 14-day solitary confinement for the attempt, she told her supporters on her website. She said the move is known as “disciplinary segregation.”
The second attempt reportedly occurred Oct. 4 — on the first day of her solitary confinement. Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Manning, confirmed news of the attempt on Twitter.
It was first reported in The New York Times — in a four-page statement from Manning herself.
“Chelsea has endured unimaginable abuses in government custody since her arrest in 2010,” Strangio wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“From the prolonged solitary confinement at Quantico to the ongoing refusal to adequately treat her gender dysphoria to now the insistence on punishing her with more solitary confinement for her attempts to take her own life, she has faced demoralizing and destabilizing assaults on her health and humanity,” he continued.
He said the disciplinary proceedings in which she was sentenced to solitary “shattered” her attempts to “piece her life and spirit back together.”
“She has repeatedly been punished for trying to survive and now is being repeatedly punished for trying to die,” Strangio wrote. “I worry about the sustainability of her current conditions and her ability to keep fighting under these restless abuses.”
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This isn’t the first time Manning’s alleged mistreatment in prison has made headlines. In September, she issued a statement with Fight for the Future through her Twitter account, saying she was experiencing bullying and harassment and being denied medications for her gender transition.
“Chelsea is demanding written assurances from the Army she will receive all of the medically prescribed recommendations for her gender dysphoria and that the ‘high tech bullying’ will stop,” Fight for the Future said in the statement. “‘High tech bullying,’ is what Chelsea describes as ‘the constant, deliberate and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.’
“I need help,” Manning said. “I am not getting any. I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.”
In 2013, Manning was found guilty of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. The day after her sentencing, Manning confirmed through her lawyer that she identifies as a woman. She began her gender transition while in prison, although she had made appearances as a woman since as early as 2010.