Third World farmers are committing suicide by consuming toxic pesticides

Neither using a secured storage nor implementing stricter pesticide access were effective in stemming chemical-related self-poisoning and suicide in rural Asia, two studies revealed.

The use of pesticides as an act of self-poisoning remains to be one of the three leading means of suicide worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported. According to the WHO, this accounts for 14 to 20 percent of all suicides globally. Many of these suicide cases were reported among people who lived in rural areas in low- and middle-income countries.

As part of the first study, a team of researchers at the University of Bristol examined 180 rural villages to determine whether the use of secured storage could make a difference. Ninety villages were given lockable storage containers that were secured in the ground, while the other 90 villages continued with their more traditional ways of storage.

By the end of the study, 611 cases of attempted suicide were noted among those that received the secured storage. On the other hand, 641 cases of attempted suicides were seen in the control group. The research team also noted that the difference was not statistically significant.

“We found no evidence to say that improved storage of pesticides reduces the incidence of pesticide self-poisoning. Pesticide self-poisoning is a multi-faceted issue, with prevention requiring work at the individual, community and population level. While our study only looked at one type of secure storage, our findings run counter to current policy approaches advocating improved storage of pesticides to reduce self-poisoning. Combined with evidence from other countries, the trial suggests that policy makers should focus their attention on withdrawal of the most harmful pesticides from agricultural practice,” senior author Professor Michael Eddleston said in a university release.

Analysis shows stricter pesticide access does nothing to stop suicides

On the other hand, a meta-analysis revealed that stricter pesticide access was not as effective as implementing nationwide pesticide bans in stemming suicide rates.

The research team examined 27 studies from five low- and middle-income countries and 11 high income countries. The experts found that national pesticide bans helped reduce suicide rates in a total of eight countries assessed. However, the efficacy of pesticide sales restriction did not show a strong enough result in reducing suicide rates, the research team noted. (Related: Corporations saving BILLIONS as Americans are dying younger from toxic effects of medications, pesticides and herbicides.)

“Discouraging though these findings may seem, they are valuable in providing insights into the understanding of the complexities of any suicide prevention effort. Suicide is not a disease reflecting well defined pathological mechanisms, and the occurrence of suicidal behaviour is usually the outcome of complex interactions of socioenvironmental, behavioural, and psychiatric factors… Because the causes of suicides are multifactorial, restriction of means needs to be incorporated into a holistic and integrated suicide prevention programme rather than as a standalone measure… There is no silver bullet for suicide prevention and it needs to be understood, implemented, and interpreted in the local context,” outside expert Professor Paul Yip told Science Daily online.

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