There's a certain brutal appropriateness at work. In the week of Anzac, an Iranian man sets himself alight in Nauru and dies of his wounds. Several days later a young Somali does the same and is now in critical condition. After the dawn services across the country, this is our new eternal flame -- our country's beacon to the world is now that of people who feel so annihilated by our "life-saving" refugee process that they now wish not merely to end their lives, but to do so in the most painful way possible. Such an act is not merely a desire to end one's own suffering, nor simply a protest; it is a way of reclaiming an annihilated life through the manner of the death.

Such a reaction to incarceration on a desert prison for no reason, with the prospect that it may be a decade or more before there is any real release, if there is release at all, cannot be reduced to psychological categories no matter how much governments would like to class it as hysteria -- or even more absurdly, as blackmail. There may be psychological meltdown surrounding it, but at its root it is an existential act, a reclamation of the freedom that is threatened by psychological disintegration. From the outside, it may seem something never to be chosen or endorsed, an understandable but terrible reaction to being wholly negated. But in circumstances such as our regime in Nauru, there's no way to judge, from outside, when enough is enough.