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Many Flood Victims Becoming Suicidal



Chiang Rai business districts under water Homes and business areas in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district are under one-metre deep floodwaters


CHIANGRAI TIMES – Mental-health checks among victims of the current flood disasters have revealed that more than 2 per cent of them are suicidal, Deputy Public Health Minister Torpong Chaiyasarn disclosed yesterday.

“Up to 590 people are suicidal,” he said. “That is a very high figure”.

Torpong was speaking as severe flooding that has swept through 21 provinces continued its rampage. Not only has the disaster ruined farms and destroyed properties, but it has also claimed 87 lives.

The National Disaster Warning Centre advised yesterday that landslides and floods could still occur in provinces including Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayao, Nan, Lampang, Lamphun, Uttaradit, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Phichit and Phetchabun.

The deadly landslide in Uttaradit’s Ban Tad district that killed five people last Friday has left at least 50 others in a depressed state and psychiatrists say at least 12 victims have a tendency to hurt themselves.

“Many victims have stopped talking and eating. They cry in their sleep,” a psychiatrist said.

Torpong said his ministry had conducted mental checks-up among thousands of victims. The disaster has shaken the mental state of 57 per cent of them, or about 13,078 people.

“I will report this information to the Cabinet,” Torpong said. “The victims need remedial action. Without that, their condition may worsen”.

He said the remedial action included food, medicine, clothing, housing and counselling.The Cabinet yesterday approved the spending of more than Bt300 million to assist disaster victims in Ayutthaya, Chai Nat and Uttaradit, according to Deputy Government Spokeswoman Kittima Chaisang.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra also announced that a fund-raising event, to be broadcast live on TV channels 9 and 11, would be held at Government House between 8.30pm and 11pm tonight, so as to receive donations for flood victims.

“Cabinet members and entertainment celebrities will pick up phone calls from donors,” she said.

The Cabinet yesterday acknowledged an order from the Office of the Prime Minister assigning Cabinet members to take charge of flood-relief operations in specific provinces.

For example, Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa is assigned to Suphan Buri and Udon Thani; Education Minister Woravat Auapinyakul is assigned to Chiang Rai, Phrae and Phayao; and so on.

“The PM’s deputy secretary general Thawat Boonfuang is trusted with co-ordinating efforts among relevant agencies,” Kittima said.

Interior Ministry permanent secretary Wichien Chavalit said the flooding disaster had affected 693,433 people in 21 provinces.

It is estimated that more than 3.68 million rai (588,800 hectares) of farmland has been destroyed and 2.81 million head of livestock swept away.

In Uttaradit, flash floods inundated five villages in Muang district yesterday, while search operations continued for missing victims in Ban Tad district.

In Nakhon Sawan, the overflowing Chao Phya River collapsed a five-metre section of a sandbag embankment, flooding many communities. More than 800 families were forced to rush their belongings to higher ground.

Many of them could do little more than watch as the floodwater swamped their cars and motorcycles.

Nakhon Sawan Municipality has now provided temporary shelters for the flood victims.As run-off water from upstream provinces is gathering volume in the Chao Phya Basin, provinces close to Bangkok are feeling the pinch.

In Sing Buri, flooding has spread over increasingly wide areas while some roads in Angthong province have become impassable.

However, the water is also receding in many provinces. Late yesterday, Trang was the only province in the South that was still struggling with floodwater.

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