World Suicide Prevention Day

World Suicide Prevention Day

Senior citizens age 70 to 80 (sick, alone, without family) replace young people as highest risk suicide group in Thailand.

suicide map

Map above shows suicide rates per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004, key below (Source: Wikipedia). The photo further down the page the famous painting At Eternity's Gate by painter Vincent Van Gogh

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EDITORIAL: Lives of quiet desperation (9/09/2011)

keyAs Thailand is fast becoming an ageing society, it would be a grave mistake to ignore the suicide statistics recently released by the Mental Health Department. In a departure from previous trends in Thailand, the risk of suicide is no longer highest among young people. It is now highest among the elderly.

It used to be that people with the highest suicide rate were those in the 20-29 age group. Not any longer. According to the latest statistics, it is people in the 80-84 age group who have the highest suicide rate, followed by those between 70-74 years old.

As the global community observes World Suicide Prevention Day tomorrow, Thailand's latest suicide statistics should prompt policy-makers to start mapping out better welfare support for the elderly.

has always been among the major causes of suicide. For the elderly, the study shows that it is their utter hopelessness and loneliness - due to lack of support from relatives and access to welfare - that make them believe there is no longer a reason to live, particularly when they are suffering from illnesses.

Without policy intervention, the situation could become much graver. According to the Institute of Population and Social Research, approximately the same low birth and death rates will stabilise the country's population at about 65 million. In the next 20 years, however, people over 40 years old will comprise more than half of the population while those over 65 will be more than 15% of the populace.

This ageing trend is occurring as Thai society transforms into a more urban environment, with much weaker traditional support for the aged. The low national birth rate also means many of the elderly will have no one to take care of them in their golden years.

In families with children, the burden of care usually falls on the daughters. This gender dimension does not end there, however. Women's longer lifespan means they will be left on their own when their sicknesses set in.

And with the demographic statistics showing the number of single women steadily on the rise, Thailand's greying problems will be largely women's problems. So will the suicide risk, since there will be more women in this vulnerable elderly group.

Demographers have long urged the government to issue comprehensive policies to alleviate the problems that come with a greying society. The wealthy can buy care from private nursing homes, but the large majority of people will still need better state welfare to prevent them from plunging into hopelessness.

Van Gogh paintingTo ensure that the elderly get sufficient support, the government must set up a savings and pension system that they can live on.

Healthcare and outreach services for the elderly must be improved. So must housing security for the aged. Special attention must also be given to elderly women. It is not only because most of the senior citizens will be women. It is also because women have been shouldering the burden of care for other family members all their lives. These contributions to society, which they have given freely without the state having to shoulder any costs, must be reciprocated.

The quicker this welfare support system is put in place, the more the elderly will be saved from depression and hopelessness.

Proper welfare is the only way to give back to the people who have done their part in their lifetimes to advance society. It is also a sure way to prevent them from choosing to end their lives dismally.

(Source: Bangkok Post, EDITORIAL, Lives of quiet desperation, 9/09/2011, link)

suicide - killing yourself, doing something to cause your own death (See Wikipedia)
commit suicide -
performing the act of killing yourself

World Suicide Prevention Day -
"held on September 10th each year. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. Disseminating information, improving education and training, and decreasing stigmatization are important tasks in such an endeavour. The theme in 2011 is "'Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies'." (See Wikipedia)

depression - "a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities" (See Wikipedia)

desperation - the feeling of being in a very bad situation (and you will do anything to change it or end it)
utter hopelessness and loneliness - a strong feeling that of no hope and being very lonely

there is no longer a reason
to live
reason - why you should do something or why an event happened เหตุ ; เหตุผล ; สาเหตุ

elderly - older people, over 65 สูงวัย, อาวุโส, อายุมาก (See Wikipedia)
aged - very old สูงอายุ
senior citizens - (polite) people over 65 
lifespan - the length of time that a person lives

greying - when the people who live in a community or society overall are older than they used to be (because young people are having less babies) วัยชรา
trend - a gradual change or development that produces a particular result ทิศทาง แนวโน้ม
ageing trend -
the pattern over time of whole countries getting older when people choose not to have big families anymore
national birth rate - the average number of babies born to married people 

- physical or mental pain or problems ความทุกข์ทรมาน
suffering from illnesses

- does not have ขาดแคลน
lack of support from relatives - family does not help them (they are by themselves, have to pay all their own expenses but have no money)

burden - a responsibility, a difficult thing that must be done, a heavy load to carry ภาระ (See glossary)
burden of care - the difficult responsibility of taking care of weaker members of the family: the elderly, sick and babies 

gender - sex, the fact of being either male or female เพศ the differences between men and women (including biological and social) (See Wikipedia)
gender dimension - the part of the problem that is related to whether people are men or women

risk - the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความเสี่ยง
risk of suicide - the danger that a person will committ suicide

welfare - good care and living conditions, in this case ความสะดวกสบาย, ความมีสุขภาพดี, help given, especially by the state or an organization, to people who need it; good care and living conditions สวัสดิภาพ

access - the right or opportunity to have or use something ได้รับสิทธิ์หรือโอกาสในการใช้
access to welfare - can get money from the government and healthcare to help buy the things they need

savings and pension system - a saving system for retirement and old age, "arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment" (See Wikipedia) เงินบำเหน็ด บำนาญ

grave - very serious; very dangerous วิกฤติ, ร้ายแรง
grave mistake - a very dangerous mistake or error (do something wrong that is very dangerous) 
- to fail to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed;  to intentionally not listen or give attention to ทำเพิกเฉย

- facts about something, described by counting them สถิติ
suicide statistics - the number of people who committed suicide during a period of time ((background, age, reason, etc)

- made available to the public
release statistics - make statistics available to the public

- leaving ออกจาก
a departure from previous trends - a change from what happened before, in the past

global - throughout the world ทั่วโลก ทั้งโลก  
global community - all the countries of the world

prompt - to cause someone to take action กระตุ้น ก่อให้เกิด
policy - a plan of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes (See Wikipedia)
support - help, by giving money, for example สนับสนุน

policy-makers to start mapping out better welfare support for the elderly

intervention - becoming involved in a situation and trying to change it การแทรกแซง
policy intervention - when the government gets involved and tries to solve a problem with a new policy

stabilise - to reach a state where there are no longer any major changes ทำให้มีเสถียรภาพ

- all the people who live in one country, area or place กลุ่มที่อาศัยอยู่ในบริเวณหนึ่ง
demography - the study of populations of countries, cities and areas (See Wikipedia and also see Wikipedia on demographics of Thailand)
demographic statistics -
lists of the numbers of people who live in different areas and their characteristics
demographers - experts in demography

comprise - to form something, to consist or be made up of two or more things ประกอบด้วย

- changes

environment - in a city or town ในเมือง
traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time

left on their own - alone, all by themself

- not married
single women - women who are not married

vulnerable - easily affected, harmed, damaged ที่เปราะบาง ที่ล่อแหลมต่อการเกิดภัยภิบัติ

urged - advised someone very strongly about what action should be taken วิงวอน

- to officially announce or give out ออก, ออกประกาศ, ออกคำสั่ง
issues comprehensive policies

- solve a problem or make a problem less severe; make better, make a bad situation better
alleviate the problems
wealthy - rich, having a large amount of money, land, and other valuable things ที่มั่งคั่ง ร่ำรวย

private nursing homes

majority - most of the people in a group เสียงส่วนใหญ่ คนส่วนใหญ่

state - government รัฐ
state welfare - money or help given by the government to people in need

- fall quickly by a large amount  ร่วงหรือตกลงอย่างมาก

ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ ให้การยืนยัน
sufficient - enough พอเพียง
sufficient support - have enough help to live

- to deal with or accept something difficult แบกรับภาระ หรือสถานการณ์
shouldering the burden of care - accepting the responsibility of caring for a person
state shoulders costs - the government pasy

- the need to provide safety from attack, harm or damage ความปลอดภัย
housing security - having a place to live in (homeless people do not have this "security)

contributions - something that you do or give to help make something successful การช่วยเหลือ

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