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Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention

An Initiative to prevent deaths from pesticide poisoning

Pesticide self-poisoning hospitalizes over 2 million people and kills at least 150,000 people every year. The vast majority of pesticide self-poisoning occurs in rural settings in South and South-East Asia, Western Pacific, and African countries where residents, farmers and agricultural workers have easy access to highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) which are sold locally and stored in their homes. Many of 150,000 annual deaths occur in young people. Each death causes immense familial and community stress, as well as having multiple effects on the education, income, and health of all impacted.

Pesticide poisoning is a regional issue

Following modernization of agriculture during the Green Revolution in the 1960s, HHPs were introduced for sale into small scale farming communities. Smallholder farmers often purchase relatively small volumes of pesticides from local vendors and store them within their often very basic rural homes. Acts of self-poisoning with household poisons, which were previously relatively harmless, then became lethal as people gained access to these highly poisonous substances. An epidemic of pesticide suicides has resulted; over the past 50 years, pesticide self-poisoning has killed an estimated 14 to 16 million people worldwide.

Evidence-based methods

The Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention works in countries where pesticide self-poisoning is a major health problem. By working in partnership with decision-makers to improve data collection and to identify local problems with pesticide poisoning, better knowledge becomes available to guide the policies and practice of pesticide regulation.

Our research has shown that restricting the sale of the HHPs most commonly linked to suicides is a highly effective way of reducing deaths and injuries from pesticide poisoning.

Removing access to HHPs prevents deaths

We provide funding and assistance to local groups working to prevent pesticide self-poisoning. By collecting the poisoning data and providing it to regulators and organizations, interventions effective at local, national, and regional levels can be developed. Our work is done with the help of local staff, who serve as champions for the effort, and experts within the Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention who have already led similar work in Asia and Africa. Our work demonstrates that the work of pesticide regulators to remove HHPs from local small scale agriculture prevents deaths and injuries from pesticide poisoning.