Nearly 250 people have committed suicide across Cambodia in the first three months of this year, with Phnom Penh having the highest number of suicide deaths, according figures from the National Police seen by The Post on April 19.
“A total of 247 suicides or suicide attempts occurred resulting in 242 deaths and five injured in the capital and all provinces but Kep and Pailin,” the report said.
Phnom Penh had the highest number of suicides or attempts at 31, with 30 deaths and one injured survivor.
In the provinces, Banteay Meanchey had 29 deaths and no survivors. Kampong Cham came third with 25 deaths, followed by Battambang with 18 deaths and three injured survivors.
The latest case, not mentioned in the police report, took place on April 19, when a 30-year-old man committed suicide by slashing his throat with a knife. Local police said the man was mentally ill, had been using drugs and drinking alcohol and had tried to commit suicide many times in the past.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Cambodia has seen an increasing number of suicides since 2018. In a recent report, WHO said that since 2018 a total of 836 people had committed suicide in Cambodia and most of those who took their own lives were between the ages of 15-19.
WHO said that more than 90 per cent of youths who committed suicide in low-income countries in 2016 did so because of serious mental illnesses compounded by an absence of treatment services and support from the community.
Yim Sobutra, an expert on mental health at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, told The Post that in Cambodia most of those who committed suicide are taking drugs or are alcoholics, which either caused or exacerbated an existing mental illness, ultimately leading to their suicide.
“Those people have mental illnesses like depression due to the lack of mental health support and societal problems related to motivation, poverty, violence and discrimination,” he said.
Chhort Bunthang, a psychology professor at the International Relations Institute, said those people may be shortsighted and are not able to put their personal problems in perspective.
He observed that sometimes the person’s problems were actually very minor and yet they still resorted to suicide, which he said he regards as selfishness because taking one’s own life always has a devastating impact on that person’s family and friends.