Chelsea Manning’s Punishment for Attempted Suicide Is Deplorable

Ft. Leavenworth Might as Well Hand Her Some Rope

Cruel and unusual punishment for Chelsea Manning. Photo credit: Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.
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When a suspected criminal does not want to be taken alive and acts in a threatening and erratic manner in order to be killed by the police, it is referred to as “Suicide by cop.” Maybe a new term needs to be coined for what is being done to Chelsea Manning: “Murder by prison.”

Though the whistleblower is scheduled to be locked up for nearly another three decades, it certainly appears as if the authorities would not stand in the way of Manning speeding things up by taking her own life. There is really no other logical explanation for why she was sentenced to solitary confinement late last month following an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Manning, who is transgender, is serving her sentence in the all-male United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Try to imagine what that is like for somebody transitioning to live as a woman. If you have trouble doing that, then just look at the facts, which show how vulnerable Manning is: More than 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide — a rate that is almost nine times higher than the national average.

But that is not the only risk factor. As WhoWhatWhy has reported, an average of 20 veterans are killing themselves every single day. It would seem that, in light of these known facts, prison administrators would have taken special care to protect Manning from harming herself.

Unfortunately, it appears that they are doing the opposite by pushing her toward suicide instead. After Manning attempted to take her own life a month ago, she was sentenced to two weeks of solitary confinement.

WhoWhatWhy has covered the devastating effects of solitary confinement and psychologists believe that is the last thing that should be done to a person who is a suicide risk.

“It is pretty well established that solitary confinement has a very detrimental effect on a person’s mental health, and for people with pre-existing mental vulnerabilities it can be close to torturous,” Ron Hornberg of the National Alliance on Mental Illness told The Guardian. “It’s a sure-fire way to worsen symptoms.”

This must be known to prison officials in Kansas, so what could be the reason for placing an inmate in solitary confinement who attempted to take her own life and belongs to two high-risk groups for suicide? Could it be that they are rooting for Chelsea Manning to take matters into her own hands by killing herself and serving as a deterrent for others who think about blowing the whistle on government misdeeds?

The way Manning is being treated is shameful. One measure of the greatness of a country is how it treats regime critics, especially those who point out legitimate shortcomings. In this regard, the United States is not just failing Chelsea Manning, it is failing us all.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: body (SenshiStock / DeviantArt – CC BY 3.0) and Army boot (Master Sgt. Michel Sauret / US Army).

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adopted by WhoWhatWhy from flag (Ian Buck / Flickr – CC BY 2.0) and Chelsea Manning portrait by Alicia Neal (

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9 responses to “Chelsea Manning’s Punishment for Attempted Suicide Is Deplorable”

  1. […] During her detention, Manning attempted suicide several times, leading her to be placed in solitary confinement. […]

  2. Jimmy Russell says:

    Manning shouldn’t even be in jail in the first place. What they’ve done to her is criminal. As a male, Manning enlisted in the Army. He shouldn’t have gotten through the screening process to enlist anyhow; what kind of parameters is the US Army using to accept enlistees ? Do they accept anyone that breathes to represent our country? Given the fact that they accepted him and put him in a position to have access to classified materials, why the access? Manning had access to sensitive, classified material, watching the carnage daily obviously sickened him, and his crime of making the world knowledgeable about atrocities being committed in the name of Bush, Cheney, and Halliburton seems not like a crime but something awards should be bestowed upon. 30+ years for downloading some video to allow the American people an idea of what’s going on in Iraq just doesn’t seem criminal. But given the fact of 30 years in solitary, wouldn’t it be more humane just to execute her?

    • David S says:

      They are actively recruiting gang members who then bring their fully automatic weapons home with them to use on the streets. The government is so desperate for bodies to throw at their aggressive wars of choice for the profits of their business friends that they are taking anyone who is breathing. Most certainly these will be the folks who are turned against us if we ever finally decide to stand up to the tyranny.

  3. Ken Benner says:

    “Keep the masses confused, frustrated and frightened and you will have them completely under your control.” Sound familier?
    Paraphrased and loosely translated quote from the German by Adolph Hitler.

  4. David S says:

    EVERY law against what an individual can do with his/her own body (so long as they do not harm another or their property), is a law against nature and a confession that the government, not the individual, is the OWNER of the individual. If your life is NOT YOURS to take, then you are nothing more than the property of the government – ie. a slave.

  5. punkyboy says:

    If Obama wants a legacy, he should pardon Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and any others he has persecuted (yes, persecuted) under the Espionage Act. Instead, he let go war criminals Bush, Cheney, et al., and the banksters who brought our economy to its knees and will do so again as they were never punished. Way to go, Obama.

  6. Sean H says:

    Manning wants to commit suicide because he is feeling the repercussions for his crime, not because the military harmed him. He was in a non-deployed military intelligence unit. MI units are full of computer geeks and the atmosphere is more like a college dorm than a rough military atmosphere. HE NEVER DEPLOYED, so he has no combat stress. He volunteered for the military in the first place. The military has discipline and their has to be repercussions for mishandling military secrets. If he wanted to mishandle government secrets without repercussion he should have got a job at the State Dept.

  7. ignasi says:

    Any Dream of Freedom is impossible if whistleblowers are imprisoned.

    Amnesty for whistleblowers, with solidarity and gratitude to his sacrifice.

  8. Ken Rogers says:

    What’s next for US military justice, making attempted suicide a capital crime?

    • David S says:

      The government NEEDS to maintain the legal monopoly on death to feel like they, not the individual, are in total control.

  9. goodnews says:

    hopefully bergdahl will be joining him