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Why are there so many people falling off balconies

Dear Editor

I read today that there have been a further two incidents in Pattaya where people have met their death falling off a balcony. There seems to be a more than a bit of a trend going on here, in what is one of the other most popular tourist areas in Thailand. It seems hardly a month goes by without yet another balcony related death. It was reported in your paper that on June 26th Joshua Smits from Australia died falling off his balcony after running through the streets half naked and in July Stephen Timothy Clifford from Ireland suffered a similar fate after being caught on CCTV having a row with a person unknown.

Today it appears that one Haakon Halvorsen, 46 fell off his balcony and died in Pattaya and was apparently suicide, only a few hours after Khun Yulanan, 43 did, and his/her death was put down to a bungled attempt to jump over a disused building, something this person did on a regular basis as some kind of strange short cut.

In June the Foreign & Commonwealth office, alone with ABTA urged British nationals to take care on balconies and sited that last year there were 14 incidents involving Britons and this even prompted the FCO and ABTA to launch a campaign warning of the dangers.

I first started to wonder why you never hear of balcony related deaths anywhere other than Pattaya, and certainly never in Koh Samui, but then I guess that is fairly easy to put down to the fact that there are very few high rise buildings and hotels and apartments in Koh Samui so there is little chance of falling off one, but Phuket has quite a few and people on holiday there do not seem to be falling off the on any kind of a regular basis, the same can be said for Bangkok.

And, how do you just fall off a balcony? I have travelled extensively across the world and stayed in many apparent and hotels that have a balcony and never fallen off one, I have never been tempted to sit on the wall of one, risking death should I fall over backwards, I have never felt the need to try to jump one building to another, lean of the balcony to get something from a balcony below and I have never been tempted to hurl myself off one, even when I have had more than a few bevies.

Hardly any of the reports of ‘death by balcony’ seem to look into the idea that perhaps there is some deranged gang going around in Pattaya pushing people off! Having said that, it was reported that three thousand British people fall off balconies each year while abroad, so maybe it’s just a case of idiots who have never been on a balcony before, as there are so few in the UK, not knowing how to conduct themselves when on one, but I would hope that it would be common sense.

I for one am very happy that Samui does not have a lot of high rise buildings, not only for the visual disaster it would be for the island, but it is one less thing to worry about if you choose to come here on holiday. However, when there is often so much negative publicity about Thailand as a holiday destination would it not be wise for our sister tourist traps to give some kind of safety demonstration or put warning signs on balconies in hotels and apartments in order to keep one more negative aspect of being here out of the papers, if these incidents really are just accidents!

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