Are there examples of countries that have brought down suicide by banning HHPs?

Sri Lanka is an important success story showing how banning the most harmful pesticides can reduce the numbers of pesticide suicides. With the introduction of pesticides into everyday use in the 1970s, the annual suicide rate in Sri Lanka increased from 5 per 100,000 population over 8 year ofage to 24/100,000 in 1976, and to an astonishing 57/100,000 in 1995. The government’s pesticide regulator starting banning the most highly hazardous pesticides in 1984, slowing down the rate of increase. Further bans in 1995,1998, and 2008 has brought the overall suicide rate down by 75%, to the current rate of 17/100,000.

Importantly, the HHP bans of 1995 and 1998 have not been associated with any apparent effect on agricultural cost or yields, and switching to other means of suicide has been insignificant.

Other success stories include South Korea (see Case Study or this publication) and Bangladesh (see Case Study).


WHO, 2016. The Public Health Impact of Chemicals: Knowns and Unknowns.

WHO, 2009. Violence Prevention. The Evidence: Guns, knives and pesticides: reducing access to lethal means.

WHO page on suicide March 3, 2017.

Knipe D, Gunnell D, Eddleston M. Preventing deaths from pesticide self-poisoning - learning from Sri Lanka’s success. Lancet Global Health 2017, in press.