Pesticide Suicide: Personal Stories

Content warning – this page discusses suicidal feelings

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Udeni was 19 years old and the mother of a three year old boy when she harmed herself after being hit by her husband. She bought a pesticide from a local vendor and drank it in the expectation it would kill her.

Fortunately, the pesticide she drank was not highly toxic and she was able to recover. 

We met her again in 2005, 15 years after her self harm attempt. She is happy and thriving and says she will never resort to harming herself again.

Tikiri Banda

Tikiri Banda is a farmer from Sri Lanka. He lives in a village close to elephant land and therefore vulnerable to attacks. He has harmed himself twice by drinking pesticides.

He explains that he didn’t choose pesticide as a method of self-harm, he just wanted something quick. He was angry and chose to drink it in the spur of the moment, without really thinking about it.

Luckily, due to the low toxicity of the pesticides he consumed, he survived both acts. This is the result of bans on many highly hazardous pesticides in Sri Lanka.

Portrait of young person


Geetha (not her real name) is a 19-year- old housewife. She has been married twice and has a young son from her first marriage. 

She now lives with her second husband’s family. However, her husband does not want her to work; her mother-in-law cooks and cares for the house, so she has little to do. After her husband became angry and hit her, she tried to harm herself by drinking a pesticide stored in the house.

Despite knowing someone who had died from pesticide suicide, she had not thought of the consequences and had done it with no intention to die. She had simply developed “sudden anger”. She was brought to a hospital where the staff provided her with care.

At the time we met her, things were going better and she was glad she had survived.

Portrait of woman


Nalini (not her real name) is a 22-year- old housewife with a young daughter. Two months before we met her, she had drunk from a bottle of pesticide in a bout of sudden anger towards her husband. At the time, she had not thought of her child or husband and had not wanted to die. She wanted her husband to know how hurt she was by his words.

She was admitted to hospital after drinking the pesticide. The nurses and doctors had cared for her and she was discharged after psychiatric assessment and help.

Nalini knows of other people who have died from pesticide poisoning. She is aware how lucky she was to survive.

Portrait of man against red brick wall


Sarath (not his real name) is a 58-year-old Sri Lankan man who works as a labourer and carpenter.

Unfortunately, his wife has worked as a migrant worker in the Middle East for most of their married life. He has therefore brought up two girls alone, caring for them, cooking for them, educating them. Sometimes he finds the responsibility of bringing them up as a single parent overwhelming. Two months before we spoke to him, he ingested a bottle of pesticide during a moment of melancholy and sadness. He was fed up of being alone and drank the pesticide to die. However, the relatively low toxicity of the pesticide allowed the hospital doctors to save his life.

When we spoke to him, he was glad that he had not died and said he would not try again. He feels more hope now, and looks forward to spending time with his two daughters.


The problem


The solution


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