Anti-suicide squad aims to expand to provinces

Anti-suicide squad aims to expand to provinces

The Department of Mental Health (DMH) is working on expanding its Hope Task Force network to the provincial level to curb suicides after last year's records showed there were more than 31,000 suicide attempts nationwide.

The DMH is accelerating the expansion of channels for receiving suicide alerts to include every provincial office of the Public Relations Department.

"The expansion of the alert channels is to create an interface where suicide risk cases will be efficiently linked and transferred," said DMH Deputy Director-General Sirisak Thitidilokrat.

"It is an important mechanism for integrating contributions towards helping, assisting and sending individuals who could be a suicide risk into the treatment system as well as exchanging information to prevent suicides and monitor those at risk," he said.

Dudsadee Juengsirakulwit, director of the DMH's Mental Health Service Administration Bureau, said one of the most prominent consequences of mental disorders is suicide.

According to the statistics for Thailand, some 31,402 individuals attempted suicide in the 2023 fiscal year, an average of 48.19 out of every 100,000 citizens.

Dr Dudsadee said suicide signals may include social media posts and messages online.

The DMH, along with the Crime Suppression Division, the Royal Thai Police and social media influencers, including Facebook pages such as Mo Lap Panda, Drama-addict and Mam Pho Dam, formed the Hope Task Force in 2020 to reach out to people who send suicide signals online, allowing them to receive timely help, she said.

Dr Dudsadee added that the task force helped prevent 599 individuals from committing suicide between Oct 9, 2020, and Dec 31, 2023. It is a model for future mental health initiatives, she said.

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