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Financial hardship spiking Thailand’s suicide rate

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Thailand’s police and health workers continue to work with online influencers such as Drama Addict, Mam Po Dum and More Lab Panda, to help identify, and if necessary intervene, in people sharing distressing messages over their battles in the current Covid era. Police have also been recruited specialist to help to prevent suicides and provide counselling.

Thailand’s Department of Mental Health reported a 22% rise in the suicide rate in the first 6 months of this year, some of the rise, they say, could be attributed to additional hardships from the lockdowns, business closures and restrictions imposed during Thailand’s outbreak in the early stages of the global pandemic. There is also anecdotal evidence in a rise of foreign suicides during the Covid-19 pandemic although there are no official statistics about the current rates.

Thailand, ranked in 32nd place in 2019 with 14.4 of suicides per 100.000 population… nearly 10,000 suicide deaths in 2019, The country holds the unenviable position of number 1 among ASEAN countries on the WHO suicide list, followed by Singapore (Rank 67 with the ratio of 11.2) and Laos (Rank 84 with the ratio of 8.6. The Philippines has the ASEANS’s lowest rate (Rank 163 with the ratio of 3.2).

According to the WHO, in Thailand, depression causes a significant number of years of life lost due to disability. The study of burden of diseases among Thai population in 2013 showed that depression was the third leading cause of disability-adjusted life year (DALY) lost in Thai females, after cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, respectively. Among males, it is among the top 12 causes of disease burden. Stigma surrounding mental illnesses, including depression, remains a major barrier for seeking help from family, friends and professionals. But mental health officials say that depression is a treatable condition.

Mental Health Department Director-General Dr. Kiartipoom Wongrachit notes that the rise in the country’s suicide rate is of great concern. Dr. Kiartipoom said that 2,551 suicide cases, or 3.9 out of every 100,000 of the population, were reported in the first 6 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 2,092 cases for the same period last year.

Facebook already blocks video clips portraying self-harming or suicides, but Dr. Kiartipoom said mental health officials have detected increasing signs of suicide risk on Thailand’s social media platforms, such as farewell messages or self-harming plans.

“These people in distress are in need of help immediately. However, that is often difficult for health officials to contact them.”

“The department had solicited help from CSD police, as well as social media influencers, in a pro-active approach to help these people.

The Thai Mental Health Hotline is 1323, in Thai language. Additionally, if you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline… 02 713 6791 (English), or 02 713 6793 (Thai).

Police in Northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai Province have reported a 68 year old woman and her 41 year old son who committed suicide in their home on Thursday. Chiang Mai Police report that the pair were found lying side by side, dead, with a BBQ grill filled with ashes next to their bodies.

According to the sister of the deceased woman, the 3 lived together after the mother and son returned to Chiang Mai from Bangkok 4 years ago. Over the past few months, however, both mother and son had been complaining over their financial situation. As reported in CityNews, both had lost their jobs and had no income.

The sister told police that she had left the house to run some errands and returned to find the dead bodies. A suicide note thanked the elder sister for her “good care and telling her that this was the best solution”.

Chiang Mai Police have also reported another case of suicide. This time a 46 year old school teacher was found dead in his car, also with a charcoal burner inside the vehicle. Relatives told police that the man had been suffering from “some illnesses and was also stressed by life and his financial burdens”. The man also left a suicide note for his family.

 

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    john brig

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 9:54 am

    Of course. So what?

  2. Avatar

    Mr Farang

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 11:18 am

    So by closing businesses and locking out tourism, the government created an estimated 2,000 additional deaths via suicide. Meanwhile COVID itself only took 60 lives in Thailand. Wake up people.

    • Avatar

      Logic Thinker

      Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      Wow. Spot on. Only took a moment to comprehend that… I’m sorry, but I must agree sir.
      I wish all Thai people happiness

      • Avatar

        Peter

        Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 12:40 pm

        If you believe that you are absolutely devoid of all logic.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 3:22 pm

      Simply NOT REMOTELY TRUE, either according to the article or to any rational thought.

      From the article: ” 2,551 suicide cases … were reported in the first 6 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 2,092 cases for the same period last year.”

      So that’s NOT “an estimated 2,000 additional deaths via suicide”, but 459. That doesn’t make them any less tragic, but it shows just how wide of the mark you are.

      What you’ve failed to even consider is how much higher the suicide rate would be here and how many people would be affected and businesses closed if Thailand was going through the same issues with Covid and lockdowns as the West.

      There’s a global recession because of Covid, with businesses suffering inevitably as construction slows and demand for an enormous variety of products dries up, so less deand, less OT, etc. The idea that this is all down to “locking out tourism” and that opening the borders would solve all the problems without creating more, worse, in their place is simply blinkered.

      Wake up.

    • Avatar

      Ben

      Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 9:48 pm

      Logic tells me you’re making the wrong comparison.

      Locking up the country = additional deaths due to financial hardship. 459 or 2,000 or whatever number people can come up with.

      Open up the country = unknown additional deaths from COVID that would easily dwarf 2,000. Also overwhelming the hospital system and eventually hurting the Thai economy because the illness would be rampant which would cause the Thai people to stay home instead of going about their business as they are now. Just look to America as the example of what Thailand might be if they opened up. Both their health and economy would be damaged.

      Good thing Mr Farang isn’t running Thailand or any other Asian country for that matter. Or Australia, New Zealand or anywhere else they’ve contained COVID. Wake up Mr Farang.

  3. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 11:27 am

    “These people in distress are in need of help immediately.” – Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Hopefully they get support and help needed.

  4. Avatar

    François Boder

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    How many Farangs are been ” suicided ” ?

  5. Avatar

    Sheena Ricarte

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Financial and economic problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis are a common reason why people around the world opt to end their lives. Joblesseness, job insecurity, and debt are among the people’s typical dilemmas that aggravate their financial situation. As we all know, a job translates to food on the dining table. Governments, NGOs, and private citizens alike should help financially problematic citizens. Money and jobs are the top concern of people worldwide in the COVID-19 era. Even in the United States, the winning president’s main task is to address the rampant joblessness caused by the coronavirus crisis.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      Very true, Sheena.

      According to US studies, a 1% rise in the unemployment rate means a 1.6% rise in the suicide rate so whoever wins, whether it’s the clown or the droid, they’ve got their work cut out.

      • Avatar

        Peter

        Friday, November 20, 2020 at 9:10 am

        The UK (similar population size) left it boarders open, and to date have now accumulated 53,775 deaths from covid, and that enormous figure is growing by around 500 more deaths a DAY. This is despite the country being subject to lockdowns to try to control the spread of this awful virus. I think the Thai policy of closing boarders, and keeping them closed, has been proven to be the correct one.

  6. Avatar

    Tony Grace

    Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Financial hardship is a treble thing and causes hugh issues to a persons self-esteem, People that have had jobs suddenely having no income with lones to repay family’s to support and suddenly no jobs to even to apply for.we sometimes take things for granted but life can be a cruel sometimes.Right now Thailand is going through change and incomes have in some cases almost disapered for some. Feeling usless can make a person not feel apreacate of there true worth..

  7. Avatar

    Issan John

    Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Like Mr Farang, a lot of people commenting see the problem only in terms of the tourism sector and opening (or closing) the border, completely ignoring the effect on the rest of the economy.

    The reality is that “The Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking predicts up to 7 million workers will be out of a job by June because of shutdowns from the pandemic. The figures could reach 10 million if the pandemic prolongs and there is no additional support from the government. Most of the layoffs will affect low-paid workers, with 6 million workers losing their jobs earning less than 20,000 baht a month. As estimated 4.2 million retail and shopping mall workers will lose their jobs,
    along with 1 million construction workers, 978,000 hotel workers, 250,000 restaurant workers, 200,000 spa and massage workers and 200,000 garment factory workers.”

  8. Avatar

    Khun plastic

    Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Economic downturns always increase suicide rates anywhere.
    This is a global issue not a Thai one only.

    I’ve no doubt officials world wide will massage the figures to distance themselves from it.

    Things are particularly bad in Asian countries where social services are pretty much non existent.

    I’m sadly expecting a huge increase in charcoal sales and base jumping.

    Perhaps a re evaluation of the distribution of global wealth could be looked at,but I won’t be holding my breath.

    RIP to the many innocent victims of this crisis.

  9. Avatar

    Don R

    Wednesday, November 11, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Legalize the herb, now more than ever! Ganja is a cost effective way to manage depression and reduce the suicide rate. It’s less harmful than tobacco or alcohol. It’d open a lucrative market for Thai people, particularly poor people, to earn a real income, produce a real commodity, as opposed to driving motorbike taxis that rarely found fares even before the tourists left. I worry about those motorbike taxi guys who hustle day after day, probably consider themselves lucky to get to hold 300 baht–before the crisis. Now what’s left for them?

    • Avatar

      Toby Andrews

      Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 11:18 pm

      I do not worry about motorbike taxis.
      There were too many. They overcharged. They could have worked on building sites, fishing, farming, and honest work, but ripping off ferangs was more profitable.

  10. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    Here is the proof.
    Those price lists they are supposed to put up at the motor bike stands.
    See how many are blank. See how they are priced in Thais scrip. A scrip they reserve for ferangs.
    They do not want a ferang to see the prices so they can overcharge the ferangs.
    Thais do not use this script, but they do when they do not want the ferangs to see the Thai prices.

    • Avatar

      Khun plastic

      Monday, November 16, 2020 at 8:12 pm

      The numbers are the same with a little u on the end in Thai script.
      I love the price lists with the thai number with the little u and the larger falang price right next to each other.

  11. Avatar

    Fesmisol Yasmitacion

    Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 11:26 am

    It’s quite intriguing that the Philippines has an extremely low suicide rate despite clearly experiencing more distress than in Thailand

    • The Thaiger & The Nation

      The Thaiger & The Nation

      Saturday, November 21, 2020 at 11:41 am

      The Philippines suicide rate has been 30-40% lower than Thailand for the past 20 years. Catholic guilt? Who knows…

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