WHO: Ban pesticides commonly used to commit suicide

The World Health Organisation (WHO) wants countries to revise pesticide control regulations to edge out chemicals that are commonly used in suicides.

In a report released on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day held yesterday, WHO calls on countries to identify pesticides commonly used by people for fatal poisoning and those with high hazardous effects for withdrawal.

“Taking regulatory actions to phase out most hazardous pesticides, along with advice and training about low risk alternatives,” states the report titled "Preventing Suicide: A resource for pesticide registrars and regulators." 

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In Kenya, a host of pesticides as well as overdose of prescription drugs have been linked to a growing number of suicide cases.

Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that 421 Kenyans committed suicide in 2017.

According to WHO, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds.

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The global organisation says pesticide poisoning is one of the commonest, and most readily preventable methods of suicide in certain parts of the world.

“Overall, pesticide poisoning accounts for as many as one in every five of the world’s suicides. Appropriate action by pesticide registrars and regulators has the potential to save thousands of lives every year,” says WHO.

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Due to pest control and modern farming activities, WHO notes that a number of lethal pesticides are easily available at home and in work places.

In some incidents, WHO said, the pesticides are decanted into unmarked containers, which increases the risks of ingestion.

The report indicated that regulatory actions in Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and other countries had shown that suicide cases could be prevented by bans on specific pesticides.

“In Sri Lanka, for instance, bans are thought to have led to 93,000 fewer suicide deaths between 1995 and 2015. There is no evidence that bans in these countries have adversely affected crop yields,” said WHO.

The report notes that suicide is not the only hazard from some lethal pesticides in the market.

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Some have already been found to cause chronic illness resulting from both long term occupational or domestic exposure.

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