Knife-wielding meth addict circles daycare centre in northeast Thailand

A man in a suspected meth-induced psychotic episode took a knife and circled a daycare centre in Non Suwan subdistrict, Buriram province, northeast Thailand yesterday morning.

At around 9am, 30 year old Gongphon “Ming” Sehlah arrived at Non Suwan Child Development Centre armed with a knife and began walking around the centre.

According to police, Ming entered a methamphetamine-induced psychotic episode early yesterday morning. He hit his 45 year old mother, Supaporn Butwat, over the head with a stick before burning down his house. Then, Ming headed towards the daycare centre in search of his four year old child.

Staff at Non Suwan Daycare Centre acted quickly to protect the 90 young children inside the building. The staff recently conducted a drill to practise what to do in this situation following the massacre at a daycare centre in Nong Bua Lamphu province, also in northeast Thailand, last month.

In Nong Bua Lamphu, a former policeman killed 37 people, mostly young children, in a knife and gun attack at the daycare centre.

A teacher at Non Suwan Daycare Centre, Daoprakai Kampuchat, said the centre has enforced a child protection policy long before the Nong Bua Lamphu massacre happened. After parents drop off their children, all entrance points to the centre are locked, said Daoprakai.

Locals saw Ming heading toward the centre and rang the teachers to warn them. Daoprakai said that at the time, 50 of the 90 children in the building were rehearsing for Loy Krathong activities.

Daoprakai said that staff ensured all doors were locked again and took all 90 children up to the second floor of the centre. The teacher said the children were not aware of what happened.

In the end, Ming circled the centre and fled on a motorbike. Officers from Non Suwan Police Station caught and arrested Ming in a nearby field next to a pond.

Mayor of Non Suwan Sub-district Supisara Sri-ngam said that after the Nong Bua Lamphu incident, she had a meeting with the relevant agencies in the area about how to prevent violent attacks at the hands of drug addicts.

However, Supisara said that the municipality administration can only campaign against drug use. Enforcing the law is down to the police, she added.

The mayor said she was worried by Ming’s psychotic behaviour because she wasn’t sure how far it could be controlled.

Recently, the acting Director General of the Medical Department, Dr Thongchai Kiratthihathayakhon, said that meth is “Thailand’s biggest problem.”

Meth-induced psychosis is found to be the root of Thailand’s most violent and heinous crimes such as murder, rape, gun crime, knife crime and arson which plague the kingdom day in and day out.

Following the Nong Bua Lamphu massacre, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the police to crack down on gun crime and drugs, methamphetamine in particular.

PM Prayut wants to make possession of just five Ya Ba (“crazy drug”) pills (meth mixed with caffeine) considered drug dealing to deter Thais from taking the drug.

A recent study conducted on meth addicts in rehab in Thailand found that cannabis, namely CBD oil, was effective in treating methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms. The drug addicts using CBD oil showed reduced anxiety, improved sleep and reduced abnormal mental symptoms.

Image via KhaoSod
Image via KhaoSod

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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