Mass Shootings and Limited Access to Mental Health Assistance in Thailand


A 2021 study conducted by the Swiss Re Institute on the attitudes toward mental health and insurance for Thai adults and children found that most Thai people are aware of psychiatric conditions. 

In the country, (75%) of people either know someone who has experienced poor mental health or has suffered from mental illness themselves (53%); yet only half of the sufferers are willing to seek professional help.

The most common disorders in the region are depressive disorders, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. Respondents expressed that the high cost of treatment and loss of income after the COVID-19 pandemic have been the core barriers to seeking help. Likewise, results indicate that most respondents would welcome early intervention from their insurer should they develop symptoms.

It is always crucial to educate ourselves and raise awareness of the importance of mental health, but especially after tragedies like the one on Thursday, October 6.

At least 37 people were killed, including 23 children between the ages of two and three after a shooting that occurred in a daycare center in Nong Bua Lamphu, Thailand. The provincial police chief confirmed that the majority of victims are minors. The latest statement from the authorities on the event reported 15 injured, eight of them in serious condition.

The authorities added that, after the attack, the attacker returned to his house, where he killed his wife and son before committing suicide. The killer has been identified as a 34-year-old former police officer, who was fired from the police force last year for drug use.

According to local police, about 30 children were in the nursery when the gunman entered around lunchtime. He first shot members of staff, including a teacher who was eight months pregnant. Local media also reported that the killer used knives in the attack before leaving the scene.

“Regarding the horrific incident that occurred in Nong Bua Lamphu province, I would like to express my deepest sorrow and condolences to the families of those killed and injured,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wrote in a statement, after proceeding to order an investigation into the massacre.

“There was blood everywhere…He was in the middle of reloading the gun…I held my hands up and begged for mercy…I didn’t know what to do,” an unnamed witness said. 

The images of the massacre, provided by the police, show dozens of corpses scattered in different places. Most of the injured were transferred to a hospital in the province. According to local media, the emergency services requested that citizens donate blood of all types.

Amidst this calamity, media outlets have emphasized how mass murders are not common in Thailand. However, in 2020, a shooting was carried out by an army officer in a shopping mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, in which 29 people were killed. The gunman, a 31-year-old non-commissioned officer, was killed by police after his 17-hour killing spree

These two events and the fact that in Thailand, more than 3 million people live with poor mental health, are more than enough reasons for a systematic change to be enacted.

Nevertheless, it is important to shed light on gun ownership in the country. According to The Times, Thailand is believed to have more than 10 million privately-owned guns in circulation, with enough guns to arm nearly fifteen in every hundred people living in the country. This means that the nation has one of the highest gun ownership rates in Southeast Asia, while also having one of the highest gun homicide rates.

Image from The Grid

Due to these elevated figures and the described tragedies that have taken place, Thailand should urgently address the current loopholes in its gun laws, like the evasion of import tax payments and falsification of firearm licenses. 

These loopholes can be closed by reforming the country’s gun laws and increasing their investments in quality and timely mental health care for all. In doing so, this will curb serious lifelong damage to the citizens’ and country’s health, development, and future.

Featured image by: The New York Times

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