I tried to find out how many Cambodians commit suicide but unsurprisingly, there are no available statistics. When I lived in Phnom Penh, I knew of two suicides in the neighbourhood. Both were due to domestic disputes: an elderly man killed himself after drinking and quarreling with his wife. The other one was a woman. (Just on domestic violence: there is the infamous case of a woman killing her husband because of his gambling losses. The couple owned one of the most popular Chinese restaurants on Monivorng Boulevard which subsequently shut down).
A 2008 report on Singapore's suicide rates found that the number of suicides dropped from 419 in 2006 to 374 in 2007 (about 2% of total deaths). This was the first decrease in four years and the reduction was attributed to the 2007's strong economy. “Unemployment figures are known to have cause and effect on suicide figures,” Ms Christine Wong, executive director of suicide prevention group Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) was quoted as saying.
"Rise in suicides across Asia feared amid recession" is an April 2, 2009 story:
"Suicide Prevention Services, a non-governmental group in Hong Kong, said it had seen a 45 percent increase in calls for help in the past three months, compared with the same period last year."A spokesperson for SOS says official figures show there are 7 attempts for every successful suicide in Singapore, but the figure is likely to be higher, as not every attempted suicide is reported. It is illegal to attempt suicide in Singapore and anyone who survive faces a jail term of up to a year, a fine or both. It is funny that some believe the corpses of suicide victims in Singapore are caned because they still need to be punished for the crime. I'm sure it's not true simply because it is a waste of resources in efficient Singapore.
"During a recession, there's definitely bound to be a jump in cases of suicide, mainly because of unemployment," said Chia Boon Hock, who runs a private psychiatric practice in Singapore.
Chia, who has studied suicide trends in Singapore, added that the three main peaks occurred during the Great Depression, before and during World War Two and in 1985, the first year the Singapore economy had fallen into recession since independence 20 years earlier.
South Korea is the Asian country with the highest suicide rate, ranking #8 on a international list. Japan is #11, Hong Kong #18, the PRC #26, India #46, Singapore #48, Thailand #57, the Philippines #86. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Burma do not figure.
I did find this bizarre news item about suicide in Cambodia. Roger Graham, a strange Californian who lived in Kampot, ran a website www.euthanasiaincambodia.com which stated: "In Cambodia anything is possible. For those of you who prefer to take charge of your own destiny, come to Cambodia! Live your life the way you want and end it when you are ready."
In 2005, a British woman found the site and sent emails. She arrived in Kampot where a few days later, she wrote a five-page suicide note and overdosed on medicines and alcohol in a £5-a-night guesthouse.
Graham was then 57 years old and owned the Blue Mountain Coffee and Internet Cafe in Kampot. He was eventually deported by the Cambodian government. "Cambodia is not the place for foreigners to kill themselves," National Deputy Police chief Gen. Sok Phal was quoted as saying.
One last point on suicide: in the US, reports The New York Times , there has been an usually large increases in suicides among the middle-aged, which is puzzling researchers. The suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds increased nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the latest year studied, far outpacing changes in nearly every other age group. For women 45 to 54, the rate leapt 31 percent. “That is certainly a break from trends of the past,” said Ann Haas, the research director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.