Ongoing violent crimes within families driven by mental health are a weekly feature of news reports in Thailand. Even before the increased pressures and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, a 2012 study showed that 20% of the Thai population have mental health issues with doctors saying they can develop easily among people with no prior history due to highly stressful financial and life experiences.

A 26-year-old man killed his 60-year-old mother in a frenzied attack on Wednesday in central Bangkok after covering her head with plastic bags and stabbing her. The shocking incident came just days after a man, crazed by illicit drugs, burned down his 86 year old grandmother’s home leaving two women and three girls homeless in Chaiyaphum province.

Man with mental health problem kills mother - Thai Examiner
(Left) The 26-year-old man who Bangkok police only named as Mr Woraphon lies on the ground as police investigate the crime scene on Wednesday after he killed his mother using plastic bags and knives. He was later taken to Lumpini Police Station.

A woman was murdered on Wednesday at her place of work by her own adult son in what the Royal Thai Police have described as a frenzied attack by the man.

The 60-year-old woman who has not been named ran a food stall at the Mahatun Plaza Building in the upmarket Lumpini area of the city.

Police discover an unnatural and gruesome murder on the 4th floor of a building in Bangkok’s Lumpini area

The woman was found in an office on the 4th floor of the building where the food concession was situated by police and emergency services who were called to the scene by concerned members of the public.

At first, they could not gain access to the room where a 26-year-old man, later revealed to be the woman’s son, had barricaded the door.

After negotiations with police officers, the man was arrested and taken to Lumpini Police Station. 

It is understood that he is an engineer who works with a large enterprise in Rayong province in eastern Thailand.

Man was being treated for mental illness in Bangkok

The man, who police have only identified as Mr Woraphon, is reported to have suffered from mental illness due to extreme stress at work and was receiving treatment at Samitivej Hospital, one of Bangkok’s leading medical centres.

He had been staying with his mother while taking a two-week period of leave from his employment.

Inside the room, police officers made an appalling discovery.

The 60-year-old woman had been stabbed multiple times while her head had been covered with at least four plastic bags which were securely fastened around her neck.

Police investigators retrieved two knives from the scene.

Mental health issues in Thailand, although made worse by the pandemic, are both underreported and high among the general population

Although mental health problems have risen significantly with the COVID-19 crisis in Thailand with the Ministry of Public Health launching its own mental health campaign to instil calm and hope in the population as part of its response to the situation, Thailand’s population has long suffered from a high level of mental health problems.

Mental Health in Thailand is also thought to be underreported.

It is generally seen as a taboo since many ordinary people associate such conditions with dark or evil influences in a Buddhist nation where calm and serenity are prized personal qualities.

Even before the pandemic, in 2012, a report by the Ministry of Public Health estimated that 20% of Thai people suffered from mental health issues while a report released on October 10th by UNICEF for World Mental Health Day showed that recent assessments by local health officials estimated that 28% of teenagers in the kingdom were suffering from extreme stress while 32% were at risk of depression because of the pandemic.

Financial problems are the main reason for mental health breakdowns in the kingdom by a long shot

The overriding factor in mental health issues in Thailand is a financial one in a country with sparse social welfare supports as well as chronic inequality.

This is a country where, in 2020, 91.15% of bank account holders accounted for only 1.52% of funds added.

World Bank Gallup poll data showed large numbers of Thai people who cannot afford food or shelter

The economic impact of the pandemic led to a 22% spike in suicides up to September 2020 according to the Ministry of Public Health.

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

Doctors in Thailand have suggested that mental health issues can occur due to stress in relation to any given situation such as a financial crisis or the death of a loved one among the general population without prior history or a significant traumatic incident in the past.

Women in Thailand are more likely to be depressed

In Thailand, where women are predominantly tasked with financial responsibilities within families, it is estimated that 1.5% of the female population suffers from depression which is the number one disability in the kingdom at 12.6% of cases.

The prevalence of depression is weighted towards females with only 1.7% of males suffering from the condition.

The other chief cause of suicides or mental health crises in Thailand are relationship breakdowns which are often closely linked to financial pressures. This is followed by illicit drug addiction.

Crazed drug addict burns down his grandmother’s home, leaves two women and 3 girls homeless

Wednesday’s matricide followed another case of extreme parental abuse on Friday last, this time in Thailand’s northeastern Chaiyaphum province when a crazed 27-year-old drug addict burned out his grandmother’s home leaving her, his mother and three girls homeless and living by the side of the road.

It is not an unusual occurrence in Thailand.

These events are featured on news reports in the kingdom on an almost monthly basis.

Thai man maddened by drink and love burns down his home and is taken away by police laughing

Thai man burns down his family home: Thailand’s drugs problem is still a very real threat to society

In February 2020, 35-year-old Jenro Deena, crazed from drink, burned down his home in Phetchabun province after his girlfriend and life partner left home while in December 2018, a middle-aged Khon Kaen woman and her family were left homeless when her 27-year-old drug addict torched the family home while she went on an errant. 

Not an unusual occurrence in Thailand

It was a similar story on Friday last when 37-year-old Prapat Phunkhunthod burned down his 86 year old grandmother’s home and was later arrested by police.

He was taken into custody and charged with arson in the Muang district of Chaiyaphum.

Mr Prapat is the son of 58-year-old Nat Chokesiri who told local reporters that her son had threatened the family with murder forcing them to flee before he carried out the threat.

The woman only had time to snatch some belongings including baby diapers for a three-year-old girl, a granddaughter who was also living in the house as well as Ms Nat’s 16-year old niece and another 15-year-old granddaughter.

‘All we could save from the burning house were diapers for my 3-year-old granddaughter and a handful of other things,’ she explained.

Women fear the man will be released from Chaiyaphum prison, they are so terrorised after the ordeal that they fear him returning home

The five terrified females have been left living in a makeshift shelter on the Chaiyaphum-Si Khiu Road of Ban Khok Phaeng Phuai village in the Chatturat district of the province.

Even though they have been assured by police that Mr Prapat is being held at Chaiyaphum Prison, they are afraid to return due to their terror of the man who they fear will be released.

Ms Nat said they are cooking on an improvised fire using food scavenged locally while obtaining water from a nearby paddy field.

She expressed gratitude to the owner of the field even though they have not yet ascertained who the owner is.

It is estimated that there are at least 3 million regular users of illicit drugs in Thailand who represent 80% of criminal arrests by the Royal Thai Police.

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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

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