Emerging Trends of Charcoal Burning Suicide in Thailand and Newspaper Reporting

Main Article Content

Manote Lotrakul
Chadaratch Udomswangchoke


Objective:  To examine trends in suicides from charcoal burning in Thailand, its demographic and other characteristics of people using this method.  We also investigated patterns in newspaper reports.

Methods: We investigated statistics on suicides by charcoal burning using data obtained from the Bureau of Health Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Public Health data set for the year 2010-2019. We evaluated patterns of media coverage on suicide from three popular newspapers between 1998-2019.  The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics as well as inferential statistics. Fisher’s exact test and binary logistic regression were conducted to quantify the associations between suicide characteristics and completed suicide by charcoal burning.

Results:  From the mortality statistics of the Ministry of Public Health, 2010 - 2019, 33 suicides died of ICD-10 code X67 (intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to other gases and vapours) and 32 of them were in 2019. The first news report of a suicide by charcoal burning was in 2007, thereafter, news reports were sparse. There was a rapid rise in news reports in 2018 (21 events) and became prevalent in 2019 (81 events). From 2007-2019 a total number of 119 cases were reported (114 deaths). 65.5% of cases were males with average age 38.92 ± 11.12 years. There were 7 suicidal pacts among family members involving 14 individuals. Location of suicide was inside a motor vehicle (69.7%), a room in person's own residence (25.2%), and a bathroom (5%).  Those using this method in a confined space (motor vehicle or bathroom) had 10.96 times higher risk of death than in a sealed room (95% CI = 1.14-105.74, p = 0.038). Almost all news reports presented the details description of the suicide method (96.2%), but lack of providing basic psychological self-care methods or mental health hotline information (98.4%), and 37.4% carried pictures of the scene. In 2016, 59% of the news was place on the front page, and sensational headlines often used to attract readers' attention.

Conclusion: There was an emerging trend of charcoal burning suicide in Thailand in recent two years (2018-2019). Relevant agencies and organizations should develop and enforcing guidelines for mass media suicide coverage. Public health measures to prevent a potential epidemic rise in charcoal burning suicides are required.

Article Details

How to Cite
Lotrakul, M., & Udomswangchoke, C. (2021). Emerging Trends of Charcoal Burning Suicide in Thailand and Newspaper Reporting. Journal of the Psychiatric Association of Thailand, 66(3), 351–364. Retrieved from https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/JPAT/article/view/247212
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