A Belgian man who lived in Thailand for ten years has said that the country’s “harsher overstay rules” led him to attempt suicide.
Now, back in his home country he is drifting from place to place with only one thought on his mind – ending it all.
He blames the country where he enjoyed a ten year expat life before “panic attacks” changed all that.
“Nickolas H” told the Nation’s “Your Say” page that Thailand’s harsher overstay rules had destroyed his life.
In March 2016 the immigration authorities in Thailand decided that people overstaying more than 90 days would face a year ban. Nickolas appears to have overstayed by more than a year resulting in a three year ban according to the rules.
He told the Nation that in 2015 after being a “law abiding citizen” in Thailand for ten years that his panic attacks meant that he could barely leave the house. He managed to go to 7/11 in the middle of the night but a visit to immigration was out of the question.
An attempt to go to Cambodia to renew his visa failed as he experienced another panic attack.
By 2016 he decided to fix matters and flew to Vietnam after paying a 20,000 baht immigration fine. He was banned for three years.
He experienced hopelessness in Vietnam and after trying to commit suicide there he was repatriated to Belgium.
He is now a homeless drifter with suicidal thoughts.
He said: “I understand the need to enforce immigration laws. But immigration officers should have the discretion to take personal situations into account”.
The full text of his post is below:
Thailand’s harsher overstay rules have destroyed my life
For 10 years, I lived in Thailand as a law-abiding citizen. I don’t do drugs and don’t even drink alcohol. In 2015, at the age of 38, I started experiencing panic attacks every time I left my apartment.
I was in a state where I was only able to go out once, at 2am, to the local 7-Eleven to buy food and other necessities. Of course, I was unable to renew my visa. I tried taking a bus to Cambodia but, 10 minutes after we left the station, I had to ask the driver to stop and let me out. I was in full panic attack mode.
In 2016, I started feeling better and decided to fix my visa issue by taking a flight to Vietnam. I paid my Bt20,000 penalty fee at Don Mueang and received a three-year ban from entering Thailand. I knew there was a good chance that was going to happen but the feeling I had when I realised I would not be able to see my friends anymore or access my belongings was one of complete hopelessness.
After two years of living on my savings, I was nearly broke. Shortly after, I attempted to end my life, failed and was offered help with repatriation by the Belgian Consulate in Saigon
I unfortunately accepted the offer. Since the day I landed in Belgium, two years ago, I have been homeless and have drifted from shelter to shelter. I have always had a stable life, have worked my entire life, but I am now in a position where the only option seems to end what I can’t even call a life anymore.
I understand the need to enforce immigration laws, I truly do. But immigration officers should also have the discretion to take personal situations into account
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