Pesticide surveillance and deaths by suicide

Rakhi Dandona & David Gunnell

The Lancet | Open Access | Published: April 23, 2021 | DOI:

Highly hazardous pesticides are among the leading causes of death by suicide in low-income and middle-income countries. National bans on these products have led to substantial reductions in pesticide-attributable deaths in many countries and, in some nations, falls in overall suicide mortality.

 These bans are a potentially cost-effective and affordable intervention for reducing suicide deaths in countries with a high burden of suicide deaths attributable to pesticides.

 In The Lancet Global Health, Nicholas Buckley and colleagues document not only a decline in overall case fatality of pesticide poisoning from 10·5% for 2002–06 to 3·7% for 2013–19 in Sri Lanka coincident with its nationwide bans, but also how human data for toxicity can facilitate further reductions in these deaths.

 These data spanning 18 years offer four distinctly valuable lessons to reduce global suicide deaths.

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State of India’s environment: Why farmers kill themselves

Down To Earth | February 24, 2021

Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC

Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC
More than 28 farmers and farm labourers die by suicide in India every day, according to the 2021 State of India’s Environment (SoE) report — an annual brought out by Down To Earth in association with Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The SoE report highlighted the suicide numbers in recent years:

  • 5,957 farmers in 17 states (and Union territories) and 4,324 farm labourers in 24 states in 2019
  • 5,763 farmers in 20 states and 4,586 agricultural workers in 21 states in 2018

The toll in increased between the two years in:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Assam
  3. Chhattisgarh
  4. Himachal Pradesh
  5. Maharashtra
  6. Mizoram
  7. Punjab
  8. Uttar Pradesh
  9. Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

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Pesticide Suicides: What More Evidence is Needed to Ban Highly Hazardous Pesticides?

Hanna-Andrea Rother

The Lancet | Open Access | Published:March, 2021 | DOI:

Globally, but particularly in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs), pesticide ingestion is used as a means of self-harm and poisoning. Epidemiological research during the past 20 years has presented much evidence of the concerns, problems, and solutions, as well as how agricultural pesticide suicides contribute to the global burden of disease.

Of particular concern are pesticides that fall into one of the eight criteria from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and WHO 2008 Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management, which resulted in classification criteria for highly hazardous pesticides.

Many of the pesticides used for suicide fall into the first seven criteria, which are based on a hazard classification from their inherent toxicity, or they are listed on an international convention. Criterion eight, however, is more nuanced, such that evidence is needed to illustrate that the active ingredients and formulations of the pesticide have shown a high incidence of severe or irreversible adverse effects on human health or the environment, such as suicide data. Yet these data are not globally recognised or used as evidence of a pesticide leading to a negative health outcome.

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Predicting the pandemic’s psychological toll: why suicide modelling is so difficult


The Conversation | May 29, 2020

We’ve recently heard experts raise concerns about a looming mental health crisis, warning COVID-19’s psychological toll on Australians could be like a second wave of the pandemic.

Suicide modelling from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre has predicted a potential 25-50% increase in the number of people taking their lives in Australia over the next five years. The researchers expect this projected increase to disproportionately affect younger people.

Any suicide is a tragedy and prevention must be a priority.Read More »

Coronovirus Lockdown : Another Migrant Dalit Labour Commits Suicide

GroundXero | April 03, 2020

“Hello Namaskar friends, my name is Roshan Lal. I am very upset today. My only fault is that I stepped out (of the school where he was put in quarantine) to get flour because we did not have anything at my home to eat. A policeman named Anoop Singh has thrashed me so badly that my right hand has stopped working. Perhaps, it is broken now. Don’t ask how helpless I am feeling right now.”



“Despite this, nobody came forward to help me that is why I am taking this extreme step.”

The testimony above has been transcribed from the three recorded audio clips which Roshan Lal, a migrant worker, forwarded to his friend and family members on WhatsApp, minutes before he took the “extreme step” of killing himself by hanging. Roshal Lal body was found hanging  from a tree in the school campus, where he was quarantined.Read More »

Coronavirus Lockdown in India: Migrant worker from Shillong Commits Suicide in Agra

GroundXero | April 01, 2020

A migrant worker hailing from Shillong in Meghalaya, has committed suicide in Agra on March 30. On his Facebook page, he blamed the sudden countrywide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following reports of outbreak of coronavirus for his decision. A GroundXero report.

From 23rd March, when the Prime Minister announced the country wide lockdown till Sunday, 27 people have died of the Covid 19 virus, while 20 reportedly died of hunger, exhaustion, police brutality and other accidents. All 20 have been identified as people working in informal sectors. Numerous pictures and videos of helpless, panicked, starving workers desperately trying to reach their homes flooded our smartphones, TV screens, social media feeds and newspapers. While special flights were send to bring in people stranded in foreign countries, thousands of migrant workers, thrown out by the factory owners, were left stranded on state borders, without any arrangement of how they will return to their native villages, towns and cities.Read More »

FACE OF AN ECONOMY: U.S. farmers are facing a tough time and confronting a mental health crisis and suicide

A Journal of People report

The U.S. farmers are passing a tough time.

A CNN report said:

“President Donald Trump’s trade war made last year tough for American soybean farmers, but 2019 could be the year they really start feeling the pain — despite Beijing’s pledge to resume buying from the United States.”

The report (“Soybean farmers are still paying for Trump’s trade war”, by Katie Lobosco) said:Read More »

60,000 suicides in India linked to climate crisis

A Journal of People report

High and rapidly rising suicide rate in India have been linked to crop damage due to increasing temperature trends over the last 30 years, finds a new study.

One fifth of the world’s suicides happen in India, typically at more than 130,000 deaths a year. With more than half of the country’s population employed in agriculture, crop failures due to increasing temperatures have been suspected to be behind the increasing trend in suicides in the past three decades. Nearly all parts of India are experiencing rising temperatures due to climate change.Read More »

The terrible truth behind the wave of farmer suicides in India

by Nikita Sattiraju | 14 February, 2017

Over three lakh farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995. A majority of them were concentrated in five major agricultural states of the country – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Even Punjab recorded a high number of 449 farmer suicides in 2015, next only to Maharashtra. Farm suicides have been steadily increasing over the years. On an average, around 15,400 farmers ended their lives each year between 1995 and 2003. This number increased to more than 16,000 between 2004 and 2012.Read More »

Death to America: Suicide Surge Parallels Era of Economic Woes

Common Dreams | 22 April, 2016

‘Many people view suicide as a mental health problem, but many people who die of suicide do not have a mental health problem,’ explains Kristin Holland of the CDC. Lack of accessible healthcare and economic anxiety believed to play major role in troubling trend. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Coinciding with growing income inequality, widespread economic stagnation, and a continued lack of basic health services during the same time period, a new federal report reveals a surging suicide rate among the U.S. population over the last three decades.Read More »