Sri Lanka’s pesticide regulations have contributed to one of the greatest falls in suicide rates ever seen in the world. Sri Lanka has reduced its suicide rate by 70% (or 93,000 lives) through a series of pesticide bans since 1995 (Knipe et al. The Lancet Global Health). Having peaked at 57 per 100 000 population in the early 1990s, its incidence is now 17 per 100 000 each year and continuing to fall. However, removal of problematic pesticides from agriculture by regulation then results in other pesticides becoming popular in agriculture and for self-harm. Therefore, there is a need to continue to monitor pesticide suicides to identify problematic replacements in a timely manner.
CPSP is analyzing recent secondary data on suicides collected as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial in the south-west of North Central Province (NCP) of Sri Lanka to identify key pesticide(s) responsible for suicides following the 2008-2014 regulation with the aim of reducing deaths through future regulations.
Pesticide regulations need to be carefully planned due to potential adverse effects on agricultural output and costs. However, previous studies in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Korea have shown no evidence of pesticide bans resulting in reduced agricultural yield and/or increased input costs to the farmer. CPSP is now investigating the impact on agricultural yield and input costs of the 2008-11 pesticide bans in Sri Lanka.