Global policies on access to highly hazardous pesticides – used in self-poisoning and suicide in rural Asia – should focus on national bans, rather than safe storage…

Two studies were published in The Lancet and The Lancet Global Health journals on Friday 11 August 2017.

The first study was a randomised trial in 180 villages in Sri Lanka which found that secure storage had no impact on rates of self-poisoning or suicide, and the second was a review of global policies on highly hazardous pesticides which concludes that bans are the most effective way of reducing suicides. 

Pesticides account for 14%-20% of all suicides

WIN a R 2,000 Woolworths Voucher

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Self-poisoning using pesticides is one of the three most common means of suicide worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and accounts for 14-20% of all suicides.

Statistics worse in low- and middle-income countries

Many of these deaths occur in people who live in rural areas in low- and middle-income countries, making it a major public health problem in these regions.

In these areas, a high proportion of the population is involved in farming so pesticides are commonly stored in people’s homes. In contrast, in high-income countries, agriculture is practised on a large scale and most of the population do not use or have access to pesticides [except that which occurs in the food that people eat].

“A worldwide ban on the use of highly hazardous pesticides is likely to prevent tens of thousands of deaths every year,” says lead author Professor David Gunnell, University of Bristol, UK.

Focus on bans, rather than safe storage

“Rather than focusing on safe storage, policy focus should shift towards bans on the pesticides most often used in suicide. This will involve identifying those most commonly contributing to suicide deaths in low- and middle-income countries, and replacing them with safer, less toxic alternatives to ensure pest management is still possible and allay concerns that pesticide bans may reduce crop yields,” adds Professor Gunnell.

For both complete studies, see:

// and //

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.