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Topic Summary

Posted by: thaiga
« on: March 24, 2016, 11:45:49 AM »

The Balcony Did It? Why Thailand’s Falling Deaths Raise Eyebrows

When Unto Kilvonen’s body was found 10 floors below a Jomtien Beach condo, it didn’t take long for speculation to mount.

Despite the Finnish man’s advanced age and reputed poor health, and even though he left a handwritten note to a Swedish friend stating his intention to jump from the balcony, the internet was unsatisfied with the police determination it was a suicide. It was much the same when Neftali Perez, a 27-year-old American, was found Monday a few whisky bottles later and five floors below his Udon Thani room.

“Of course it was suicide. Duh. It's on page 46 of the police handbook, balcony fall + death = suicide,” commented user KKup on the ThaiVisa expat webboard.

Those cases and frequent other incidents reignited decades-running discussion about suspicious cases of people, mostly male foreigners, dying in balcony-related circumstances.

Hardly a week or day goes by without someone’s terminal descent screamed from a headline: “Man Dead After Balcony Plunge,” “Balcony Fall Kills Man,” “Aussie Dies After Falling From Hotel Balcony.”

In such headlines there’s only one clear cause of death – gravity. What led up to the fall is often less clear. Even in the many cases ruled suicides, the word “jump” is seldom used, perhaps owing to the skepticism of headline writers.

The topic was the subject of a 2008 article in The Independent, which suggested jumping from balconies is a “favored method” for “suspicious-sounding suicides" of British citizens in Thailand.

Yet the perennial suspicion of balconies and questions about those who fall from them them may result from observational bias. Is it sinister conspiracy seen only by those with the most jaundiced views of Thailand? Or is there something particularly perilous about Thai balconies?

We sought data to determine the most reliable answer but found none. Police in Thailand, as elsewhere, do not track balcony-related deaths.

An unscientific review of media reports found 32 reports of deaths under such circumstances in 2015.

Although bodies have been discovered below balconies from Chiang Mai to Buriram, they seem to turn up most frequently beneath those of Pattaya. But is the number unusual.

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