Regulations on pesticides in Sri Lanka cut suicides by 70 percent

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Regulations of highly hazardous pesticides in Sri Lanka have cut suicides by 70 percent, saving an estimated 93,000 lives in a ten-year span, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

Close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year, and for each death, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Every year, suicide accounts for more deaths than war and homicide combined, and is the second leading cause of death among those aged 15-29, behind road injury, the health agency reports.

Globally, 79 per cent of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries, however high-income countries have the highest rates of suicide. Incidents are three times higher among men than women in wealthier countries, while these rates are more equal in poorer nations.

Pesticide poisoning, which the agency identifies as a less-commonly used but tragically “highly effective strategy”, accounts for 20 per cent of global suicides. Due to the high toxicity of many chemicals used in suicide attempts, this method often results in death.

Regulations of highly hazardous pesticides in Sri Lanka have cut suicides by 70 percent, saving an estimated 93,000 lives in a ten-year span, and halved suicide deaths from poisoning in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea between 2011 and 2013, WHO’s report shows.

WHO recognizes suicide as a “public health priority.” In 2008, the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) launched as an evidence-based guide to scale up service for mental, neurological and substance use disorders.

WHO’s action plan for 2013-2020 sets a global target of reducing suicide rates by 10 per cent by 2020; in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which sets a target of cutting suicide rates by one third up to 2030