BANGKOK — The Thai Health Promotion Foundation took down a new campaign against drunk driving from all channels after it was strongly criticized for inadvertently promoting suicide.
In the video released Monday, a mother commits suicide after her son dies from a drunk driving accident during Songkran.
The seven-minute video opens with the mother contemplating suicide and then rewinds the narrative to explain what got her there. It shows her son riding a motorbike while under the influence get into an accident which kills someone and sends him into a coma.
While he is incapacitated, his mother has to rely on a loan shark to pay for his treatment but is soon unable to pay him back.
Harassed by the lender, she hangs herself after the hospital calls inform her that her son has died.
In response, one of Thailand’s most influential Facebook pages criticized the campaign’s portrayal of suicide as a way out, saying the video could lead to copycat suicides.
“I understand the producer wants to attack the audience emotionally, but this presentation is very risky for those who are currently stressed or facing the same kind of problem,” an admin of Drama-addict wrote.
Many commentators joined in complaining about the video.
“I watched this clip three or four times last night, and it didn’t make me aware of consequence of drunk driving,” wrote Facebook user Anon Khawsaard. “Instead, I got the feeling that the problem of very pricy medical care and illegal loans makes people commit suicide.”
Five hours later after the matter was raised online, the foundation issued an apology for the video and immediately withdrew it.
“The purpose of this video campaign was to create awareness that the consequences of drinking and driving don’t only affect drinker, but also their associates and other people in society,” read the statement.
Produced as part of the foundation’s annual pre-Songkran campaign, the video was directed by director Kriangkrai Wachirathamporn of GDH, a major film studio.