CHIANGRAI TIMES – Suicide rates have fallen dramatically over the past 14 years, but in a disturbing trend, the number of very elderly Thais killing themselves has outstripped that for young adults in the past five years, the Mental Health Department said yesterday.
The overall number of suicides fell from 5,700 in 1997 to 3,700 last year. Since 2006, however, the number of Thais aged 80-84 who kill themselves has exceeded suicides in the 20-29 age group, according to the department, which did not offer any explanation for the trend.
Chiang Mai still has the nation’s highest average suicide rate, with 20.4 suicides per 100,000 people, followed by Lamphun (20.2), Chiang Rai (15.63), Mae Hong Son (14.45) and Nan (13.03).
The department’s director-general, Dr Aphichai Mongkhol, attributed the relatively high suicide rates in the North to cultural factors including a local tendency to flaunt wealth, combined with strong peer pressure and a traditional reluctance to seek counselling.
Some analysts attribute higher suicide rates among the elderly to a lack of self-esteem, long-term ailments, loneliness and a decline in care of older relatives by the young.
In decreasing order, the most common methods of suicide in Thailand are hanging, poisoning and gunshot.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday September 10, the department is jointly organising an exhibition titled “Love Yourself” with Central Group starting Thursday September 8.
World Suicide Prevention Day
10 September 2011
World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September promotes worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. On average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.
The sponsoring International Association for Suicide Prevention, the co-sponsor WHO and other partners advocate for the prevention of suicidal behaviour, provision of adequate treatment and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide, as well as responsible reporting of suicides in the media.
At the global level, awareness needs to be raised that suicide is a major preventable cause of premature death. Governments need to develop policy frameworks for national suicide prevention strategies. At the local level, policy statements and research outcomes need to be translated into prevention programmes and activities in communities.