Hunger strike is the form of the protest and the direct action which is usually employed by people in the desperate situations to show that they are willing to die to make their (or somebody else's) plight known. It is very common form of protest in prisons and jails, especially amongst the prisoners in solitary confinement.
As the name suggests the core of this strike is the refusal to eat anything until some goal is reached. Quite often the authorities will wait until the health of the striker deteriorates, or just let the person die. The knowledge about the hunger strike outside of the institution, as well as the support for it, is detremental for the survival of the striking individual.
Some prisons view hunger strike as a form of suicide, even when there is no clear evidence of the person being psychologically unhealthy (as apposed to psychologically disturbed, since an individual must obviously be stressed to go on the hunger strike). As such they might employ isolating individual (supposedly to ensure that one doesn't hurt anself), religious and psychiatric counseling, and even forced feeding (by forcibly placing the tube down an individual's throat).
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