Committee set up to probe suicide attempts in prison

Committee set up to probe suicide attempts in prison

A guard stands on a watch tower at Bangkok Remand Prison, Bangkok. (File photo: Bangkok Post)
A guard stands on a watch tower at Bangkok Remand Prison, Bangkok. (File photo: Bangkok Post)

The Department of Corrections has set up a fact-finding committee to investigate three apparent suicide attempts by members of the Thalu Gas political protest group.

The committee is tasked with finding out where a large number of painkillers swallowed by a detainee and sharp objects used by the other two to cut their wrists came from, Corrections Department director-general Aryut Sinthopphan said on Tuesday.

Natthi Thongplat, head of Bangkok Remand Prison, said Phalaphon Chitsuphap, 20, who had swallowed between 20 and 30 pills, told him he was under a lot of stress in prison as he could not take care of his wife who is three months pregnant.

The detainee admitted to having collected the pills from 10 inmates until he had what he thought would be a fatal dose, said Mr Natthi.

The other two detainees, Baibun Thaiphanit and Phutthiphong Sombun, sustained self-inflicted wrist lacerations. The two admitted that they had previously committed similar acts of self-harm before they were detained, said Mr Natthi.

They also indicated that the reason for injuring themselves this time was that they wanted to win public sympathy, said Mr Natthi.

A preliminary investigation found that all three incidents occurred within about five minutes of each other, he said.

“In my experience, as a prison chief for more than eight years, this is the first time that a detainee has swallowed that many painkillers in one go,” he said.

However, the present condition of the three men is not as bad as reported previously by the media, he said.

On Monday, Arnon Nampa, a leader of the anti-government Ratsadon group, posted details on his Facebook page of what he alleged were suicide attempts by the three men.

Mr Aryut said he was notified about the attempts by a warder on Saturday night and rushed to see them at the prison. The three, who have been detained since June 17, were rushed to the Department of Corrections' hospital, he said.

As of Tuesday, Mr Phalaphon had apparently recovered and was still only suffering from mild nausea, while the cuts to the two detainees’ wrists were not very deep and now only needed cleaning, he said.

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