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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 (one of whom is in university, the other doing her final school exams).

In times past, when highly hazardous pesticides such as folidol or tamaron were widely used in Sri Lanka, Sarath and many like him would have died from their poisoning. He would not have survived and been able to seek help from his family and community to overcome his sadness.


August 7, 2020


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