The body of the 65-year-old man who suffered from diabetes was pulled from the Chao Phraya River on Thursday in what appears to be a particularly poignant tragedy according to his son.
A 31-year-old son, who paid off his father’s mortgage arrears on his home, never got the chance to spring the surprise on his 65-year-old parent. The elderly man is believed to have committed suicide after walking out of his home on Wednesday morning for a routine doctor’s appointment.
Thailand already has the highest incidence of suicide in Southeast Asia with 13 suicides per 100,000. In 2019, over 4,000 people took their lives in Thailand alone. The main driver, according to experts, can be summed up in one word, that word is debt.
Thailand’s extended Covid 19 emergency has meant that suicides in the kingdom are up.
Dr Varoth Chotpitayasunondh, who works with Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, has warned that a mental health crisis faces the kingdom as the economy struggles and people, often with livelihoods adversely impacted, try to make ends meet.
Nearly 11 people commit suicide everyday
With nearly 11 people taking their lives every day with a particular emphasis on the north of the kingdom and among urban residents, it is important to sometimes look behind the factual news reports.
The human nature of this story was brought home on Wednesday when the body of an elderly man was pulled out of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok near Krung Thep Bridge.
It is one of many suicides in Thailand every day except the story has a tragic twist.
Police only released Mr Narong’s first name on Thursday after his body was recovered
65-year-old Mr Narong’s family name was not released to the press by police at Bang Kho Laem Police Station in Thonburi on Thursday but his son Charnnarong explained a bit more of the story.
His father was wearing a blue shirt, black shorts and a black face mask on Wednesday morning when he left his home at 7 am to visit his local hospital, the Ratburana Hospital for a routine appointment.
Mr Narong suffered from diabetes. His appointment card was found in his clothing but the hospital later confirmed he did not show up.
Reports on Wednesday night of a distressed man
There were reports on Wednesday night of a distressed older man standing near the Krung Thep Bridge from concerned local people who contacted the emergency services. Later, when they arrived at the scene, the man could not be found.
‘At around 3 pm my dad had still not returned so I called the hospital, but they said he had not shown up,’ his son Charnnarong said on Thursday.
Man had been preoccupied with his house mortgage which had fallen into arrears in recent times
31 year old Charnnarong explained that his father, in addition to his chronic illness, had been preoccupied and worried about the mortgage on his home. He had fallen behind this year in his payments. The son explained that the debt was a substantial sum.
Son was waiting to surprise his dad
His son had recently brought his father’s payments on the house debt up to date without his knowledge and was waiting to tell him as a surprise. He was too late.
‘The reason for his suicide could have been the stress from the huge mortgage debt for our house, which I recently paid up but had not told him yet as I wanted it to be a surprise,’ he told the media on Thursday
The body of the elderly man was sent to Siriraj Hospital for an autopsy.