Attempted suicide rates at Mae La, the largest refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border are higher than at other camps, with three suicides attempted just this month said a Karen Refugee Committee (KRC) spokesperson.
In an interview with KIC the spokesperson, Naw Blooming Night Zan said: “Compared to Mae La camp, [attempted suicides] are rare in other camps. We haven’t been able to find out the reason for [these attempted suicides]. Overall, the attempted suicide rate is very high in Mae La camp.”
Of nine refugee camps on the Thai side of the Thai-Burma border Mae La is the largest and has the biggest population.
From January to 23 June of this year there have been 19 attempted suicides resulting in six deaths, according to figures from KRC.
The social affairs coordinator of Mae La camp, Saw Pha Htaw, told KIC News: “Most of the [attempted suicides] happen due to alcohol. Domestic issues are another reason.”
Refugees living in the camps said that food rations and other aid for the refugees has been cut. Livelihood difficulties arising from the cuts and restrictions placed upon them have been causing the refugees stress.
KRC held an emergency meeting on 23 June to find solutions to the problem of attempted suicides. After consulting with officials at Mae La camp they decided to broadcast Karen Student Network Group (KNSG) educational programmes every day on the camp radio station.
Last year, there were 27 attempted suicides at seven refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. Thirteen people died, most of them were from Mae La refugee camp.
Reporting by S’Phan Shaung for KIC News
Translated by Thida Linn
Edited in English by Mark Inkey for BNI