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Suicides spike during pandemic, police ask social media influencers for help



PHOTO: Unsplash: Jude Beck

Suicides are on the rise in Thailand and some say stress brought on by the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the spike in self inflicted deaths. To help prevent the future suicides, mental health officials are asking social media influencers for help.

Over a 6 month span, suicides have spiked by about 20%. 2,551 suicide cases were reported in the first 6 months of the pandemic, 459 more cases than the same time last year. Mental Health Department Director General Kiartipoom Wongrachit says the increasing numbers are a big concern. The department teamed up with the police’s Crime Suppression Division and are asking for help from social media influencers.

An officer from the division, Jirapob Phuridet, says the police have recruited popular Thai influencers like Drama Addict, Mam Po Dum and More Lab Panda to help out with the plan. Thai PBS didn’t go into detail into what they call a “proactive” plan, but say there will be consultations available for those who need support.

Signs of suicide have been increasing on social media, Kiartipoom says. While some social media platforms, like Facebook, have technology that can detect video clips recording self harm or suicides, Kiartipoom says there are many other signs to look out for that the technology can’t detect. He says there have been an increase of farewell messages and suicide plots posted on social media. But since many suicide signs are on social media, Kiartipoom says it’s difficult for health officals to reach those who might need help.

“These people in distress are in need of help immediately.”



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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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