We can do better as a society when it comes to mental health

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Earlier this month, Bangkok experienced a harrowing event that sent shockwaves through the entire nation. In the bustling Siam Paragon, located in the heart of the city center, a 14-year-old boy pulled out a gun and began shooting random people.

Upon hearing about this horrific incident, Thai netizens took to the comment sections of various online platforms; the collective outrage was palpable. Their anger and condemnation, directed at both the young boy and his parents, were entirely justified. While the public has every reason to be incensed, amid this rightful anger and grief, it is crucial that we also address a deeper issue lurking in the shadows: the state of mental health.

In the aftermath of such a traumatic event, it is vital to encourage those affected to take all the time they need to process their emotions, including anger and pain. However, after this necessary period of healing, I urge you to examine the situation from another perspective.

The 14-year-old boy who committed this unthinkable act is also hurting, as are his parents. While I am not a mental health professional, I can empathize with the emotional turmoil often experienced during adolescence. It’s a period when the world can seem confusing and overwhelming, and for some, it becomes unbearable.

Years of therapy have taught me that violence cannot be effectively countered with more violence. We cannot truly help someone in pain by treating them unkindly. What we need is compassion. Although the young boy must undoubtedly face the consequences of his actions, he also needs love, understanding, and guidance.

It is easy to condemn him, but it is equally important to remember that we, too, have experienced pain and confusion. Viewing this situation with compassion doesn’t excuse his actions; rather, it creates a safe space for addressing mental health issues and initiating the healing process.

Approaching such situations without compassion risks fostering an environment where more tragic incidents are likely to happen. When individuals feel there is no understanding or kindness available to them, violence may seem like their only option.

By cultivating a compassionate environment, I firmly believe society can decrease the likelihood of similar tragedies in the future. We need to create a safe space where everyone, particularly young people, can discuss their challenges without fear of judgment. Open dialogue is the first step toward addressing mental health issues effectively.

We must advocate for a more compassionate and understanding approach, especially following tragic events involving young individuals. Such circumstances underscore the vital role of empathy, love, and open dialogue in preventing similar incidents and in promoting societal mental well-being.

We must recognize that the tragedy in Bangkok is not an isolated event but a bleak reminder of the mental health challenges faced by individuals worldwide, both young and old. The path to healing and preventing such atrocities begins with compassion and understanding, not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. In this way, we can collectively work toward a society that prioritizes mental well-being and fosters a culture of empathy and support, ultimately preventing future tragedies.


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