Pesticide consumption a leading cause of suicides worldwide: Report -Rohan Gupta

-Down to Earth

Up to 168,000 people kill themselves by ingesting pesticides annually, it said

Pesticide accounted for as many as one in every five suicides across the world, a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report on suicide prevention has said.

The report titled Preventing Suicide has been published in the form of a resource for pesticide registrars and regulators to educate them on how to prevent suicides due to pesticide consumption.

The report put the number of annual suicides worldwide due to pesticide self-poisoning at 110,000 to 168,000. Pesticide was the commonest method used in attempted suicide and among the three most common methods of suicide along with hanging and firearms.

Over 95 per cent of pesticide-related suicides were reported to have occurred in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs). The numbers were low in high-income countries due to the existence of bans and regulations on highly hazardous pesticides.

The report found that self-poisoning was the most common form of suicide and suicidal people often ingested the most accessible poison. In high income countries, the poisons most frequently ingested for self-poisoning were painkillers, tranquilisers or anti-depressants which weren’t that fatal and led to fewer deaths, the report said.

On the other hand, in LMICs, pesticides were a popular choice which could have a similar fatality rate as that of firearms and hanging. The report identified multiple risk factors leading to suicides like mental illness, acute distress, job loss etc. with acute financial difficulties due to crop failure being a foremost pressure point for agricultural communities.

Pesticides differ in their fatality rates. Paraquat, aluminum phosphide, highly toxic organochlorines and some others accounted for many deaths.

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Down to Earth, 9 September, 2019, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/pesticide-consumption-a-leading-cause-of-suicides-worldwide-report-66631

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