Cases of depression and suicide on the rise in Thailand

A mental health doctor announced recently that Thais are experiencing depression and committing suicide in increasing numbers.

Dr. Somrak Chuwanichawong, of Bangkok’s Srithanya Hospital, a psychiatric facility, recently presented her research on depression, suicide and public health in Thailand. She noted that there have already been two suicide epidemics in the country — the first was during the “Tom Yum Kung crisis,” the financial crisis in Asia in 2000, and the other in the early days of the  AIDS epidemic in the early 90s.

In times of non-crisis in the country, the suicide rate has remained low and steady — until recently.

The country seems to be experiencing its third suicide epidemic, according to Dr. Somrak. However, this time the cases are not linked to a world event but, rather, to personal depression, reported Daily News.

She also noted that the highest suicide rate was in the country’s North. She thought that it may be related to the Northern traits of holding on to stress and not sharing problems with others.

The doctor said that the Central and Northeastern regions have not experienced a spike in cases and that their are the fewest reported cases in the South. She noted that, in Central Thailand and Isaan, money issues are the biggest reasons for stress and depression. That might be because the area is generally poor though poverty is an issue all over the country.

She said that depression can have many causes, but when combined with mental imbalances, can lead to suicide when left untreated.  

In Thailand, there is only one licensed psychiatrist for every 250,000 people.  The public health target is to have one psychiatrist for every 100,000 people.

In Thai culture, it’s not common to seek therapy unless the symptoms of mental illness are apparent. Conservative Thais generally have a bad perception of people who go to therapy.

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