More action is needed to counter the rising rate of suicide, especially among young people, the national mental health committee said on Thursday.
This follows a recent online survey that linked stress associated with COVID-19 and its economic impact to an increase in suicides.
The current suicide rate is eight per 100,000 population, but there were significant signs that more people were considering taking their own lives since late last year, Amporn Benjaponpitak, director-general of the Department of Mental Health, said on Thursday.
The committee had therefore requested that the communicable disease committee of each province make use of village health volunteers and community volunteers of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and other means, in making regular home visits to assess the state of people’s mental health, especially vulnerable groups, she said.
Since many cases seem to be associated with the impact of the pandemic, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) and the ministry would use funds set aside for coping with COVID-19 to tackle the problem, Dr Benjaponpitak said.
On Sunday, a mental health survey on the ministry’s website found that 8.4% of the 2.5 million respondents were experiencing high levels of stress, while 10% were at risk of developing depression, she said.
About 5.5% of participants were found to have suicidal tendencies.
Dr Benjaponpitak said suicide rates tend to intensify six to 12 months after a major causal factor, which in this case would be the spread of COVID-19.
This is why the heightened risk was detected only recently, she said. Young people required extra attention as they were considered at higher risk.
For this demographic, social media was a double-edged sword as it could be a major cause of stress but also a useful tool in reaching out and helping those who have intimated suicidal tendencies in their posts, Dr Benjaponpitak said.