BANGKOK Oct 15 King Bhumibol Adulyadej was so
revered that many Thai people around the country fainted or felt
unwell when they learnt this week that he had died after 70
years on the throne.
Two days on, the government says it has provided medical
treatment to scores of people overcome by grief and has told
mourners they can call a hotline to help them through the
"There are people who hyperventilate and we try to calm them
down by talking to them," Boonruang Triruangworawat, director
general of the Department of Mental Health told Reuters on
Saturday. "Others we have to send to hospital."
He was speaking outside the Grand Palace, a glittering
complex of halls, pavilions and gardens where the remains of the
king will lie for months before a royal cremation.
Thousands of black-clad mourners gathered there on Saturday,
some holding umbrellas against the sun, and others fanning
themselves, visibly overcome with grief.
Dotted around the riverside palace were dozens of ambulances
and medical tents. Teams handed out cotton wool soaked in
ammonia solution to help revive people close to fainting, said a
Reuters reporter at the scene.
Boonruang said around 200 people had been treated by medics
since the king died, some for hyperventilation due to anxiety.
Thais loved King Bhumibol as a father figure, and the death
of the world's longest-reigning monarch after 70 years on the
throne has left many uncertain about the future.
One of those being treated at the palace, Suchin Yamatad,
64, said he felt dizzy at the news of the king's death.
"It's just that I'm old. I've seen His Majesty for a long
time," he added.
There was a government webpage to advise people how to cope
with grief, besides a counselling hotline, the Ministry of
Public Health said.
"Those who are overcome with emotion can call it," said
ministry spokesman Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai.
Most of Thailand is hushed in dignified mourning, but in
some areas news of the death fuelled tension.
About 400 people gathered outside the home of a soya milk
vendor in the southern province of Phuket on Friday to protest
against a Facebook post by the vendor's son that they saw as
insulting to the king, police said.
Some shouted threats.
"The messages aren't necessarily aggressive, but they hurt
the feelings of Thai people who are grieving," said Teerapon
Tipcharoen, the Phuket provincial police commander in charge of
The vendor's son could be charged with breaking Thailand's
royal defamation and computer crimes law, he added.
Thailand's strict lese-majeste laws protect the most senior
royals from insult. A junta that took power after a May 2014
coup has used the law to hand down stiff sentences to critics of
(Additional reporting by Athit Perawongmetha, Patpicha
Tanakasempipat and Jutarat Skulpichetrat; Writing by Amy Sawitta
Lefevre; Editing by John Chalmers and Clarence Fernandez)