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The solution

Ban toxic pesticides

Suicide is preventable.

The most effective way to prevent deaths from pesticide poisoning is to remove access to acutely toxic highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs). This can be best achieved through regulation – banning and phasing out the most toxic pesticides.

By removing all acutely toxic HHPs from agricultural practice, it is estimated that global pesticide suicide rates will fall rapidly from 150,000 deaths a year to less than 50,000.

Shelves of pesticide bottles in a shop

Make self-harm safer

Many people ingest pesticides to self-harm and do not intend to kill themselves. Self-harm is often used for communication – to tell others how you feel, how angry you are. 

Whether someone dies or not depends on the human toxicity of the pesticide they take. Ingestion of pesticides that are particularly toxic to humans often results in the person’s death. By contrast, ingesting other less toxic pesticides will cause mild or moderate poisoning, but will not result in death.

By restricting access to lethal pesticides, we can make self-harm much safer. This allows distressed people the time and space to find help. Because most acts of self-harm with pesticides are impulsive, people who survive rarely attempt suicide by using other means or try again with pesticides.

Allowing them to survive their act, by ensuring the pesticides to which they have access are of low toxicity to humans, will allow many people to survive and get on with their life.

Improve data collection ​

By improving surveillance systems on suicides and poisonings, and removing data collection barriers, countries can make more informed decisions on pesticide regulation.

Different countries may register pesticides in formulations and under brand names that differ across countries. Each country needs to conduct its own assessment of which pesticides lead to most harm. After implementing regulations, they need to observe the impact of bans on both the numbers of deaths and poisonings and on agricultural productivity.

Measure impact on agriculture ​

Bans on acutely toxic HHPs often face resistance from farmers who believe that they are needed to deal with certain pests. However, research shows that replacing HHPs with non-chemical controls or less toxic alternatives has no adverse effect on food production.

By collecting data on crop yields before and after pesticide bans, we can monitor the difference. Evidence from countries that have already implemented bans shows that agriculture has not suffered from carefully implemented bans.

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Progress

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What we do

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The problem