Correction: on Thai farmer suicides: Freedistrict made an error in the February 19, 2014 article titled “Thailand political crisis update“.
The article was first published with the statement: “The Department of Mental Health says the recent spate of farmer suicides was caused solely by delayed payments under the rice scheme programme.”
The word “not” was inadvertantly left out of the sentence, which completely changed its meaning.
The sentence should have read: The Department of Mental Health says the recent spate of farmer suicides was not caused solely by delayed payments under the rice scheme programme.
Freedistrict regrets this error, which was typographical in nature, and even more so because of the sensitive nature of the information given.
Nine farmers in Thailand have reportedly committed suicide this year – seven by hanging themselves and two by drinking insecticide.
The Department of Mental Health (DMH) has sent psychologists to talk to the families of the deceased, and found that some of the victims were known to have had previous mental health and debt problems, according to a Bangkok Post report.
“We can’t completely blame the rice-pledging scheme for the farmer suicides,” said DMH deputy director-general Panpimol Wipulakorn. “The scheme may have partly motivated the suicides, but along with other factors.”
Some rice farmers have joined protests in Bangkok over the failure of the government to make overdue payments under the controversial rice-pledging scheme, which is under investigation for corruption and irregularities.
Protesting farmers reportedly said they have been suffering stress since payments under the rice scheme came to a halt several months ago, forcing many to borrow money from loan sharks at high interest to make payments on their own debts.
DMH teams have been working in the several provinces with health volunteers, offering consultation and advice to any farmers found to be at risk of high stress.
Some DMH psychologists surveyed 60 farmers who have joined the protests in Bangkok, and found that 3 percent were under a high level of stress and needed monitoring.