Struggling mother draws portrait of PM before committing suicide

Images: Pvlia Cyhfaoin / Facebook
Images: Pvlia Cyhfaoin / Facebook

Drawing a portrait of the prime minister and writing a note explaining that she couldn’t afford to take care of her family were two of the last acts of a young mother who killed herself this morning.

The 19-year-old woman, an amateur artist who tried to make ends meet as a security guard, died early Wednesday after complaining that she was unable to provide for her toddler. Her family confirmed her death with the media, where she has only been identified by her first name, Plaifon. 

One of her final messages was posted last week. It consisted of her drawing of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha along with lyrics to the song Far by Manoj Puttan.

“My friends, where am I? In the end I cannot reach you. Saddened and desperate. I face such a strange world,” it read. “Poison in food. Cemeteries on streets. Mad man carrying a wheel … My friends, where am? In the end I’m lost. I want to go home.”

At breaking point, Thailand’s poor are killing themselves

Plaifon also expressed her anger and despair. 

“Since I started drawing, I never looked down at a drawing so low like this one. I drew it with a feeling that I don’t have money to buy milk for my kid. Everything is so expensive. I drew this with a feeling that I work 12 hours a day and end up with nothing. I drew this in tears.”

There’s been an uptick in suicides attributed to financial despair in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that pushed many already struggling to survive over the edge. Dismaying scenes of impoverished Thais begging for promised government assistance, only to be denied, have deepened frustrations with the government’s response. Just Monday a woman poisoned herself in front of the Finance Ministry in protest.

“This is the era I feel the government is so mean,” Plaifon continued in her post. “It sucks. Have you seen someone choose to die because they have nowhere else to go?” 

Her Facebook post as of this afternoon had been shared more than 4,000 times, with many comments offering condolences to her family and wishing that she is at peace. A few asked for contact information so they could donate money. 

According to Plaifon’s brother, Jirasin Amsarika, she had been working in Bangkok to provide for her 8-month-old living with family east of the capital in Chachoengsao province. 

Jirasin told Thairath that after the COVID-19 outbreak worsened, his sister asked him to advance money to buy milk for the baby. At about 1am this morning, he heard that Plaifon had killed herself.

After an abusive marriage, Plaifon had found love again. Her boyfriend, Wichai, whose last name has been withheld, told Thairath that they both worked as security guards at the same company in Bangkok. She had suffered from a blood disorder that forced her to miss work and lose income.

Wichai said neither of them qualified for government stipends of THB5,000 for those informally employed because their jobs were on the books.

“Throughout the one year that we’ve been together, I loved her and felt deeply for her situation,” Wichai said. “She had been through a lot, fighting her sickness and being abused by her ex-husband … But she still tried, made use of her talent in drawing to get some money so she could feed her baby. But during this time, things are pretty tough.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with additional details.

If you are considering harming yourself, please reach out for help. Assistance is available around the clock from the Mental Health Department’s 1323 hotline (for Thai speakers) or the Samaritans of Thailand at 02-713-6793 (for Thai speakers), and 02-713-6791 (for English speakers).

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