New unit a 'beacon of hope'

New unit a 'beacon of hope'

Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej and Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak, director-general of the Department of Mental Health look at displays during a preview of the exhibition on their fight against suicides at the Crime Suppression Division on Monday. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)
Central Investigation Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej and Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak, director-general of the Department of Mental Health look at displays during a preview of the exhibition on their fight against suicides at the Crime Suppression Division on Monday. (Photo: Wassayos Ngamkham)

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH) on Monday announced they are joining forces to try and reduce the number of suicides that occur each year in Thailand.

The collaboration follows the release of figures for 2021 which revealed that there were 4,810 suicides in total, or about seven for every 100,000 people.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej and Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak, director-general of the DMH, said the unit had been christened the Hope Task Force. The unit's first job will be examining fresh approaches to mental health problems brought on by a socially and economically damaging pandemic.

The two divisions of the CIB and DMH and a number of high-profile social influencers will form the core of the new team, said Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop.

The force's initial efforts have yielded positive results with 308 people persuaded not to carry out threats of suicide that had drawn out an emergency response team. Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said he envisions the unit continuing to grow as it tries to tackle some of the chief causes of mental health problems and self-harm, particularly difficult family and romantic relationships, financial problems, health issues and gambling.

Dr Amporn said that the world has woken up to the importance of mental health care Thailand, too, is willing to invest in treatments to lessen the number of people who feel they have nowhere else to turn except committing such a tragic act.

Back in March, Dr Amporn said that the pandemic has greatly affected people's mental health. According to one DMH survey, rates of depression are now five times higher than before Covid-19 struck and there are six times as many people in hospitals and mental health facilities considered to be high risk.

More than 80% of the population admit to having lost at least some emotional motivation, largely as a result of their daily routines changing drastically for prolonged periods of the pandemic, he said.

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