Thai youth more at risk of suicide, says Department of Mental Health

Thailand’s young people now have an increased risk of depression and suicide, Kiattibhoom Vongrachit, Director-General of the Department of Mental Health (DMH), told Thai PBS on Monday (10 June). In the first six months of this year, 40,635 calls were made to DMH’s hotline; 13,658 of the calls were from children and young people aged between 11 and 25 years old.

Kiattibhoom Vongrachit , Director-General of the Department of Mental Health

Kiattibhoom also said that in 2018, 70,543 calls were made to the hotline. 10,928 were from the 11 – 19 age group and 14,173 from the 20 – 25 age group.

In 2016, the World Health Organization ranked Thailand at 43 out of 183 countries in terms of the overall suicide rate. Data from DMH found that in 2017, the suicide rate in the 20 – 24 age group was 4.94 per 100,000 of the population. In 2018, the rate increased to 5.33 per 100,000 of the population. Kiattibhoom said that the numbers of young people with stress or anxiety issues, relationship issues, depression, or suicidal thoughts are on the rise.

Last year, BBC Thai reported that, in the first four months of this year, there were 12 suicides of university students reported by the media. At the Chula Student Wellness Centre, Chulalongkorn University’s student mental health support service, around 1,700 students received mental health counselling in the first half of the second semester of this academic year alone.

DMH said that a good support network plays an important role in preventing depression and suicide among young people, suggesting the “3 Cs method”: care, connection, and communication. Stress and anxiety may affect a student’s ability to concentrate and perform well at school, and they may show several warning signs, such as lack of attention, loss of interest in daily activities, lethargy, sadness, and sleeping issues.

Once these signs are noticed, it is important that family, friends, or academic advisors support the person, either by listening to them or taking them to see a mental health professional. It is important to seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist if one is suffering from mental health issues. Many universities around the country now offer mental health services to students and staff, and many public and private hospitals now offer psychiatric care.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues and need to talk, the DMH hotline is available 24/7 at 1323. The Samaritans of Thailand are also available at 027136793 from 12:00 – 22:00, or on their Facebook page.