Teen suicide prompts school probe

Teen suicide prompts school probe

Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong. (Government House photo)
Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong. (Government House photo)

Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong has ordered that officials expedite an investigation into the death of a 14-year-old girl who hung herself after a student counsellor advised her to change schools, as her mother wanted.

The story came to light when a popular Facebook page, Yak Dang Chat Hai Return Part 3, published the teenager's story, sparking a public outcry.

The last straw is said to have been the advice of a student counsellor who told her to accept her mother's wishes and move from Satri Phatthalung School in Phatthalung province to a school near her home in Songkhla province, because of the family's financial problems, according to her friend.

The girl texted several of her friends before hanging herself at her home around midnight last Friday. She said she wanted her death to send a message to the school and to her family that things need to change.

The school and the ministry's Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) launched a fact-finding probe. It was scheduled to take seven days.

Ms Trinuch said on Tuesday that an initial investigation suggested there was a miscommunication between the girl and her student counsellor.

Ms Trinuch said the girl was under pressure because of her family's financial problems. Her mother wanted her to switch to a school closer to home in Songkhla, instead of continuing her studies in Phatthalung. The girl was unhappy about this and refused.

The minister said her suicide pointed to the importance of a good school counselling programme. The current programme needed to be improved to better support students' needs, in line with the ministry’s policy to guarantee safety in schools.

Ms Trinuch said student counsellors must understand the issues students face, including their family situation and financial issues, in addition to providing classroom lessons, annual academic consultancies and career guidance. 

Furthermore, schools should provide adequate financial assistance to ensure education is accessible to all.

“A school counselling programme is of the utmost importance to help maintain students' mental health,” said Ms Trinuch.

“Student counsellors must understand the issues students face and provide mental health support, as well as helping them plan for their future. Schools must have teachers who are ready to support students to their utmost,'' she added.

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