Assessment of Suicide Risks and Factors in a Refugee Camp in Thailand

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, and constitutes a major public health issue globally. Almost 1 million people lose their life through suicide on an annual basis, in addition to many more that attempt suicide. Therefore, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year.

Suicide is a behaviour and not a mental disorder; neither is suicide always the result of a mental disorder. Suicide can result from a range of factors, including, for example, negative life events, psychological upheaval, alcohol and drug abuse, mental disorders, physical illness, exposure to suicidal behavior of others, including a family history of suicide. Multiple factors are usually involved in any individual case.

Suicide is a complex human behavior that encompasses psychosocial, health, cultural, economic, and environmental factors. Furthermore, as these factors are intricately connected, it is often hard to disentangle the causes and effects.

Research is inconclusive as to whether refugees are at higher risk of suicide than other migrant and nonrefugee populations (Silove et al. 2007). Certainly, distressing life events, difficult living conditions, restrictions on movements and isolation, uprooting, lack of social networks and traditional support mechanisms, and uncertain future prospects can all contribute to both vulnerabilities to mental disorders and to higher suicide rates.

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