Suicide rate in Thailand hits half-decade peak despite prevention efforts

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Suicide numbers in Thailand have been on a steady incline over the past five years, peaking at 4,800 lives lost in the previous year, as reported by the Department of Mental Health (DMH).

Yesterday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, a global initiative spearheaded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that took place yesterday. This event brings together international efforts to combat suicide. In response, various workers from Thailand’s public health sector, including teams from the DMH and the National Health Security Office (NHSO), united their forces to contribute to this prevention campaign.

The concept of World Suicide Prevention Day emerged following a distressing report by the WHO, which revealed that globally, suicides claim a minimum of one million lives each year. This translates to one life lost every 40 seconds. Suicide has now climbed into the top 10 causes of death worldwide, with men being three times more likely to succeed in their suicide attempts compared to women.

In Thailand, suicide and mental health issues remain significant challenges. The DMH’s Deputy Director-General, Sirisak Thitidilokrat, highlighted that the death toll is still on a rising trajectory. The DMH data revealed an escalating suicide rate, recording 6.3 per 100,000 population in 2018, 6.32 in 2019, 6.64 in 2020, 7.38 in 2021, and 7.97 last year, marking the highest rate in half a decade, reported Bangkok Post.

“The primary cause, accounting for 50% of suicides, stems from relationship difficulties. Health and mental issues contribute to 20% to 30% of the deaths, while alcohol and economic struggles also play a part.”

Workplace stress has been identified as another significant contributor, with the death toll among working-age individuals (20 to 59 years old) rising from 3,585 in 2021 to 3,650 last year. The WHO pointed out that suicide impacts between 5 to 10 million other individuals and sends ripples through economic systems.

A suggestion from NHSO secretary-general, Jadet Thammathataree, proposed regular assessments under the universal healthcare, also known as the “gold card” scheme, for individuals identified as suicide risks.

For those in distress, the DMH offers a mental health hotline, available at 1323. This line received 11,769 calls last year from individuals of working age, according to the DMH.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai). Please also contact your friends or relatives at this time if you have feelings of loneliness, stress or depression. Seek help.

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Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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