WHO: One Suicide Death Every 40 Seconds; Pesticide Control Can Reduce Rates

Reducing pesticide self-poisonings is one of the most effective ways to reduce suicide deaths –the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury, according to a new WHO report.

Release of the WHO report, Preventing suicide, a resource for pesticide registrars and regulators, coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday.

Photo: WHO

The report reflects the growing body of evidence that regulations to prohibit the use of highly hazardous pesticides can lead to reductions in national suicide rates. In Sri Lanka, a series of bans led to a 70% fall in suicides and an estimated 93 000 lives saved between 1995 and 2015. In the Republic of Korea – where the herbicide paraquat accounted for the majority of pesticide suicide deaths in the 2000s – a ban on paraquat in 2011-2012 was followed by a halving of suicide deaths from pesticide poisoning between 2011 and 2013.

Globally, there is one suicide death every 40 seconds. While 79% of the world’s suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries, high-income countries have the highest rate, at 11.5 per 100 000, according to a WHO press release.

Globally, there are an estimated 10.5 deaths by suicide per 100 000 people a year. Rates varied widely, however, between countries, from 5 suicide deaths per 100 000, to more than 30 per 100 000. Nearly three times as many men as women die by suicide in high-income countries, in contrast to low- and middle-income countries, where the rate is more equal.

Image Credits: WHO.