Community Shaken by Wave of Tragic Suicides from Pakse Bridge

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Some possessions of a 15-year-old boy left at the Pakse bridge earlier this month.

More than four people have jumped to their deaths from the Laos-Japan Bridge in Pakse since September last year, following the notable suicide of a local singer. 

Emergency workers reported a new suicide attempt Monday evening, which comes after four recorded suicides since September last year.  

Authorities reported the deaths of a 15-year-old boy who jumped from the bridge earlier this month and a 22-year-old man who took his life at the same location on Friday. 

The deaths come after Mor Lam singer Inteng Keobouala jumped from the bridge, ending her life in September last year. She was believed to have suffered severe financial difficulties. 

Shocked at the growing number of deaths, members of the public have speculated that some of the deaths may be due to a phenomenon known as “suicide contagion,” in which exposure to suicide can increase the risk of suicide in vulnerable individuals.

According to a 2021 report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 210,000 in Laos suffer from a mental, neurological, or substance use condition.

The report suggests that over 95% of people with serious mental illness remain untreated, while 75% of the population, living in rural areas, is unable to access mental health services.