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      Bans of WHO Class I Pesticides in Bangladesh—suicide prevention without hampering agricultural output

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          Pesticide self-poisoning is a major problem in Bangladesh. Over the past 20-years, the Bangladesh government has introduced pesticide legislation and banned highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) from agricultural use. We aimed to assess the impacts of pesticide bans on suicide and on agricultural production.


          We obtained data on unnatural deaths from the Statistics Division of Bangladesh Police, and used negative binomial regression to quantify changes in pesticide suicides and unnatural deaths following removal of WHO Class I toxicity HHPs from agriculture in 2000. We assessed contemporaneous trends in other risk factors, pesticide usage and agricultural production in Bangladesh from 1996 to 2014.


          Mortality in hospital from pesticide poisoning fell after the 2000 ban: 15.1% vs 9.5%, relative reduction 37.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 35.4 to 38.8%]. The pesticide poisoning suicide rate fell from 6.3/100 000 in 1996 to 2.2/100 000 in 2014, a 65.1% (52.0 to 76.7%) decline. There was a modest simultaneous increase in hanging suicides [20.0% (8.4 to 36.9%) increase] but the overall incidence of unnatural deaths fell from 14.0/100 000 to 10.5/100 000 [25.0% (18.1 to 33.0%) decline]. There were 35 071 (95% CI 25 959 to 45 666) fewer pesticide suicides in 2001 to 2014 compared with the number predicted based on trends between 1996 to 2000. This reduction in rate of pesticide suicides occurred despite increased pesticide use and no change in admissions for pesticide poisoning, with no apparent influence on agricultural output.


          Strengthening pesticide regulation and banning WHO Class I toxicity HHPs in Bangladesh were associated with major reductions in deaths and hospital mortality, without any apparent effect on agricultural output. Our data indicate that removing HHPs from agriculture can rapidly reduce suicides without imposing substantial agricultural costs.

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          The global distribution of fatal pesticide self-poisoning: Systematic review

          Background Evidence is accumulating that pesticide self-poisoning is one of the most commonly used methods of suicide worldwide, but the magnitude of the problem and the global distribution of these deaths is unknown. Methods We have systematically reviewed the worldwide literature to estimate the number of pesticide suicides in each of the World Health Organisation's six regions and the global burden of fatal self-poisoning with pesticides. We used the following data sources: Medline, EMBASE and psycINFO (1990–2007), papers cited in publications retrieved, the worldwide web (using Google) and our personal collections of papers and books. Our aim was to identify papers enabling us to estimate the proportion of a country's suicides due to pesticide self-poisoning. Results We conservatively estimate that there are 258,234 (plausible range 233,997 to 325,907) deaths from pesticide self-poisoning worldwide each year, accounting for 30% (range 27% to 37%) of suicides globally. Official data from India probably underestimate the incidence of suicides; applying evidence-based corrections to India's official data, our estimate for world suicides using pesticides increases to 371,594 (range 347,357 to 439,267). The proportion of all suicides using pesticides varies from 4% in the European Region to over 50% in the Western Pacific Region but this proportion is not concordant with the volume of pesticides sold in each region; it is the pattern of pesticide use and the toxicity of the products, not the quantity used, that influences the likelihood they will be used in acts of fatal self-harm. Conclusion Pesticide self-poisoning accounts for about one-third of the world's suicides. Epidemiological and toxicological data suggest that many of these deaths might be prevented if (a) the use of pesticides most toxic to humans was restricted, (b) pesticides could be safely stored in rural communities, and (c) the accessibility and quality of care for poisoning could be improved.
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            Patterns and problems of deliberate self-poisoning in the developing world.

            Deliberate self-harm is a major problem in the developing world, responsible for around 600 000 deaths in 1990. The toxicity of available poisons and paucity of medical services ensure that mortality from self-poisoning is far greater in the tropics than in the industrialized world. Few data are available on the poisons most commonly used for self-harm in different parts of the world. This paper reviews the literature on poisoning, to identify the important poisons used for self-harm in these regions. Pesticides are the most important poison throughout the tropics, being both common and associated with a high mortality rate. In some regions, particular pesticides have become the most popular method of self-harm, gaining a notoriety amongst both health-care workers and public. Self-poisoning with medicines such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants is common in urban areas, but associated with few deaths. The antimalarial chloroquine appears the most significant medicine, self-poisoning being common in both Africa and the Pacific region, and often fatal. Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is used in many countries but in few has it reached the popularity typical of the UK. Domestic and industrial chemicals are responsible for significant numbers of deaths and long-term disabilities world-wide. Self-poisoning with plant parts, although uncommon globally, is locally popular in some regions. Few of these poisons have specific antidotes. This emphasizes the importance of determining whether interventions aimed at reducing poison absorption actually produce a clinical benefit, reducing death and complication rates. Future research to improve medical management and find effective ways of reducing the incidence of self-harm, together with more widespread provision of interventions proven to be effective, could rapidly reduce the number of deaths from self-poisoning in the developing world.
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              Self poisoning with pesticides.


                Author and article information

                Int J Epidemiol
                Int J Epidemiol
                International Journal of Epidemiology
                Oxford University Press
                February 2018
                18 August 2017
                18 August 2017
                : 47
                : 1
                : 175-184
                [dyx157-1 ]Department of Medicine, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College, Sylhet, Bangladesh
                [dyx157-2 ]Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
                [dyx157-3 ]OSD, Health Directorate (DGHS), Dhaka, Bangladesh
                [dyx157-4 ]Department of Medicine, Rangamati Medical College, Rangamati, Bangladesh
                [dyx157-5 ]Pharmacology, Toxicology, & Therapeutics, University/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
                [dyx157-6 ]School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
                [dyx157-7 ]Dev Care Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh
                [dyx157-8 ]South Asian Clinical Toxicology Research Collaboration, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
                Author notes
                Corresponding author. Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, South Parks Road, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3SY, UK. E-mail: fazle.chowdhury@
                © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Pages: 10
                Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council 10.13039/501100000269
                Award ID: ES/P009735/1
                Mental Health

                Public health

                pesticides, bangladesh, suicide, prevention, agriculture


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