A research done by the Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism (TCIJ) has revealed that suicide among the Thai police is twice higher than other Thai citizens on average.
From 2008 to May 2016, 276 Thai police officers have committed suicide, which is about 32.5 officers per year or about 13.6 officers per 100,000 officers, reported TCIJ.
The rate is twice as high in comparison to the suicide rate of Thai people in general which in 2014 is at 6.08 persons per 100,000 people.
The report points out that the police officers who is between 41-50 years old, working in the crime prevention and suppression fields and with the rank of Police Senior Sergeant Major (Dap Tamruat) is the group with highest risk of committing suicide in accordance to the studies.
TCIJ summarised that the police officers are usually under a lot of pressure from work, family related issues and usually witness violence. Moreover, they are the group that have easy access to weapons.
Realising the problem, the Royal Thai Police in recent years has gathered information about cases of suicide among the police officers and established a hotline, 1599, to offer psychological consultancy and support for police officers via phone.
Earlier this year, the news of the controversial suicide of Pol Lt Col Chan Chaisawat, an inquiry police officer, made headlines nationwide, after he was found dead by reportedly hanging himself at his house. He died shortly after he submitted a petition to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, against the junta premier’s order to overhaul of the enquiry police force.
Although, it was generally believed that he committed suicide, many people called for an independent post mortem-examination on his body, suspecting that he might have died from other causes.
According to Assit Prof Punchada Sirivunnabood from Mahodil University who has conducted a research on the reform of inquiry police unit and people’s trusts towards inquiry officers, people’s distrust towards inquiry officers builds up a lot of pressure for the officers while performing their tasks, reported TCIJ.
She pointed out in the research that the hierarchical and centralised structure of the Royal Thai Police is another problem which adds up toll to the psychological well being among the police officers as such structure compromises the independence of their works.