Thailand’s rate of suicide is 450% of that seen in the Philippines and 272% of that in Cambodia. The growing toll of domestic abuse cases, killings and murder-suicides is another chronic problem linked with a rising wave of mental health issues which are also linked with cultural and societal mores in the kingdom as the suicide figures, show with experts increasingly linking the issues not only in Thailand but across the globe.

The death of another woman at the hands of her husband in Pathum Thani on Monday night again highlights the ongoing crisis of violence towards women in Thai society and the appalling levels of destruction it leaves in its wake. A 28-year-old man, jealous and suspicious of his wife’s infidelity, was arrested by police at the scene after he bludgeoned his wife with a cement pole after she verbally abused him.

Police in Pathum Thani question 28-year-old ‘Night’ or Panupong Champrot after he was arrested on Monday night for killing his wife with three blows from a cement pole after the woman verbally abused him. (Inset) Scenes from the Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima in September after 54-year-old Boonlert Kolkok Kruat shot his wife to death in a toilet outhouse building when she angered him with her jealousy after he paid an extended visit to his ex-wife’s home.

Police in Pathum Thani, investigating the killing of a married woman on Monday night, have remanded her husband, 28-year-old Mr Panupong Champrot or ‘Night’ to Pathum Thani prison after he initially appeared to confess to her killing but then demurred as he was requested to sign the necessary statements as they proceeded to push a lesser charge of assault causing death under Section 290 of the Criminal Code against him on Monday.

Officers working on the case later objected to a bail request by relatives of the accused man.

Details were given by Police Colonel Yutthaphum Phoudom who is in charge of the investigation at Pathum Thani Police Station in the Mueang district of the province.

Police arrived at the scene in Pathum Thani with paramedics after the husband summoned help

Police arrived at the scene of the killing on Monday evening after receiving a call from the perpetrator who waited for them at the scene, the front area of a shop installing gas fuel systems in cars.

After arresting and questioning Mr Panupong, he explained that he had been married to his wife, Ms Kanyakorn Phongern, for over 10 years. The couple had an older 9-year-old child and one who was 3 years old.

He told police officers that just over a month ago, his relationship with his wife became problematic. 

Jealous husband told police the problems began a month ago when he discovered his wife communicating with another man online

He noticed that she was telling him lies and was engaging in online chats with other men on the Facebook social media site and LINE.

He told the officer that, in response, his wife had accused him of being paranoid but, on Monday, he drove to her place of work to bring her home but she could not be found.

He later discovered his wife eating with another man. 

He demanded that she return with him immediately to which she duly complied by sitting on his motorbike.

However, in front of the hospital in the centre of Pathum Thani, she jumped off when the vehicle slowed down and began to walk away from him.

He said he followed her to convince her to return home with him and try to settle their differences. He caught up with her at the car gas station.

Wife became verbally abusive after jumping off the bike prompting her husband into a deadly rage

However, his wife then became verbally abusive towards him.

He said her words stung his pride driving him into a violent rage. He told officers he had grabbed a concrete post on the ground which he sighted and attacked his wife with the heavy, blunt object.

He said he hit her three times and could see that she had been rendered unconscious and was seriously hurt.

He immediately called the police and paramedic services who took his wife to the local hospital but he was later informed that she had died from her injuries. 

Accused declined to sign a confession after earlier admitting to police what had happened on Monday

Then, after telling police, he accepted what he had done, he declined when it came to signing the paperwork for a confession so that charges could be filed against him for the killing of his wife.

Police at Pathum Thani told reporters that they had made it a priority to keep relatives of the deceased woman, who later visited the police station to obtain documents in order to reclaim her body, apart from the accused.

The family were visibly angered after what had happened to the young woman. They included the victim’s mother Ms Kanchana Wongsane, and her aunt Ms Kwanjit Raksap.

The funeral of Ms Kanyakorn also known as ‘Ae’ is due to take place at Wat Sopharam in the Bang Prok Subdistrict of the Muang district in Pathum Thani on Wednesday 10th November.

Mother of the victim said she had earlier made reports to authorities about the man’s abuse of her daughter

Her mother told police that she had already reported incidents related to the ongoing abuse of her daughter by the accused, Mr Panupong, on previous occasions to authorities and had encouraged her daughter to leave her husband.

She demanded that the police pursue legal proceedings against him to the fullest extent that the law allows which would, based on the current charge, leave the man facing a jail term of between three and twenty years in prison.

At this stage, the man is not facing a more serious charge of murder under Thai law based on lack of premeditation.

Her mother told police she never believed her daughter would be left dead by her husband as a result of his fierce temper.

Domestic violence is another of Thailand’s growing list of chronic problems, officials struggle to cope

Domestic violence in Thailand is one of the kingdom’s growing list of chronic problems and while successive Thai governments have taken steps to address the issue, it has been met with resistance at both a political level and on the ground from society and officials making the implementation of the law difficult particularly in rural areas.

The Domestic Violence Victim Protection Act of 2007 was a huge step forward for the kingdom in dealing with the problem. It was seen as a landmark piece of legislation for the country. 

In August 2019, the Thai cabinet suspended an amendment to the 2007 law which made offences involving domestic violence a non-compoundable offence meaning they could not, as is the case for many parts of the Thai criminal code, be finalised with an agreement between the parties to the crime as opposed to criminal prosecution and trial.

At the time, the government and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters that Thailand was not prepared yet to deal with the volume of complaints and legal actions that would be required.

‘Between 2007 to 2019, there were more than 10,000 domestic violence cases. So maybe we should set up a new department to handle the cases,’ he declared.

Amendment to the landmark 2007 law would have taken domestic violence cases out of police hands

The amendment to the 2007 law passed by the junta era National Legislative Assembly had proposed that domestic violence cases be moved away from the jurisdiction of police stations to social workers working with the Social Security and Human Security department. 

This would have meant the investigation of domestic abuse cases by the Office of Women’s Affairs and Family Development. 

The controversial proposal would have seen resolutions being reached within families with the oversight and adjudication of social workers to prevent cases overwhelming the criminal justice system.

Proposal dropped by the cabinet in 2019

This proposal was later dropped by the government when it moved to suspend the amendment with the support of women’s rights groups.

Law passed by the old National Legislative Assembly to amend Thailand’s 2007 law on domestic abuse

However, while the prosecution of domestic violence cases across Thailand remains a role reserved for the Royal Thai Police, the reality on the ground is that traditional values and societal mores mean that police officers are reluctant to take action in relation to complaints except in the most serious of cases. 

Researchers and sociologists see the root of the problems in traditional values and roles coming increasinly into conflict with the modern world

Academic researchers and sociologists have linked the surge in domestic abuse in Thailand targeted at women aged 15 to 49 years to the traditional roles of men and women in society including an outdated view by some, less educated Thai men that they own their wives who are duty-bound to attend to their needs at home including sexual desires.

This crisis is linked with the explosion of social media in Thailand where women are accessing western ideals and culture as well as the chronic problem of drug and substance addiction in the kingdom among younger men.

There is also concern about the rising tide of mental health issues contributing to outrages perpetrated by men on women and children in the home.

Pandemic has aggravated the situation leading to a rise in tragedies in a country with an already alarming suicide problem, the worst in Southeast Asia

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, social workers and police have reported a noticeable jump in both domestic violence and murder-suicides linked with the deaths of husbands, wives and sometimes children throughout the country.

Last year, government studies showed a 22% rise in suicides in the early part of the year linked to the COVID-19 pandemic although, for the full year, the figure was only 11%.

Nevertheless, Thailand has the highest suicide rate in Southeast Asia.

Someone attempts to kill themselves every 10 minutes in Thailand.

 A World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2019 showed that Thailand’s rate of suicide was 450% that of the Philippines and 272% that of Cambodia.

These figures show clearly that there are key cultural and social factors at play in the country’s problem with suicide and murder.

Of course, domestic abuse, mental health problems and suicide are challenges faced in every country with experts increasingly linking the issues with both relationship struggles and financial difficulties.

Restaurant owner kills his wife and stepson

In May 2020, a 31-year-old restaurant owner who was receiving psychiatric care, gunned down his wife and stepson in Maha Sarakham province.

Police probe mental health of suspected murderer who killed his wife and stepson in Maha Sarakham

He had lost his temper due to a buildup of financial pressure which was triggered after a civil lawsuit was filed against him in court.

Studies in Thailand have linked murder and suicides to two key factors. These are relationship breakdowns and financial stress. 

Soaring incidence of domestic violence during the pandemic in Thailand, up by nearly 50%

In March this year, police in Samut Sakhon discovered a murder-suicide in the Krathumbaen district of the province when two young Myanmar migrant workers, newly married, were found dead in their apartment.

Two couples at the same time were found dead in murder-suicide incidents in March last year

It came at the same time as a couple in Phetchaburi province, 43-year-old Wichai Leeka and his 21-year-old wife Thanthip Pothong were found dead by police after Mr Wichai murdered her with an iron bar.

The killing of Ms Panupong on Monday night left two young children without a mother and father. It is not an unusual occurrence and such news stories are now humdrum in Thailand carried on a near-daily basis on Thai local media.

At the same time, they have an enormous and incalculable knock-on effect on a country that is already struggling to come to terms with severe societal and economic challenges.

Another Monday night, another wife killed by her husband, this time in rural Nakhon Ratchasima

At the end of September, on another Monday night in the Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima province, in rural northeastern Thailand, another woman met her end at the hands of her husband in a momentary fit of temper.

She was shot by him with a sawn-off shotgun after she angered him with her jealousy.

54-year-old Boonlert Kolkok Kruat was the brother of the assistant to the Headman of a village in Ban Khlong Somboon in the Khlong Muang Subdistrict of Pak Chong. He farmed corn and also operated several fish tank installations, deriving a good living.

He had been married to Amnuay Atwicha for three years but resided near the home of his ex-wife whom he had lived with previously for 10 years which caused his new wife to become regularly exercised with anxiety and jealousy.

Man had visited his ex-wife’s home causing his younger wife to become jealous and quarrelsome

Details of the case were given by Police Lieutenant Colonel Chakraphol Ramanchai of Nong Sarai Police Station who investigated the case.

On Monday the 20th of September, he had been at his ex-wife’s home where his grandson was carrying out renovations as he enjoyed some beers watching the work underway.

Twice, he had been interrupted by his new wife who came to ask when he was returning home.

When Mr Boonlert arrived home, he engaged in a heated argument with his wife and went to retrieve his shotgun from a closet.

The younger woman then retreated to an outside toilet on the grounds of the house but her husband followed her. He kicked down the door and shot her sitting on the toilet inside.

Assistant to village headman told police that his brother was an impatient man after the killing

He told police that he realised immediately after seeing his wife fall, fatally injured, that he had committed an appalling crime and went to comfort her but it was too late, she was already dead.

He contacted his brother, Mr Samrit Kolkok Kruat, who took the weapon from him and held it as they waited for the police.

His brother later told officers his sibling’s new wife was quite jealous and that this infuriated his brother who he described as a very impatient man. He said he had been concerned for him in the past but did not think it would come to his killing his wife.

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Further reading:

Murder suicides spike in Thailand as country suffers the economic brunt of the Covid 19 crisis within homes

Car number plate fraud ends in murder and suicide after Chiang Mai police serve arrest warrants

Crime Suppression Police in efforts to curb 22% spike in suicides linked with Covid 19 reality in Thailand

65-year-old man in Bangkok commits suicide over his mortgage arrears already paid off by his son

Businessman murders wife, commits suicide in Bangkok over trade downturn and money issues

Mysterious death of Australian man found on Saturday in Pattaya ruled as suicide, case closed by local police

Police probing murder-suicide theory after the bodies of two lesbian lovers were found at Pattaya hotel resort

92% of suicides due to the virus are among the self-employed according to expert research group in academia

Thai wife with cancer decides to take her handsome husband with her in a desperate act of murder-suicide

Judge attempts suicide in court after trial verdict and a caustic review of criminal justice practice

Police in Pathum Thani find family dead in a car – thought to be a suicide pact as police find charcoal stove

Thailand’s women, culture and weather are all factors which lead to more foreigner suicides

A Thai woman driven to suicide by a Facebook photo