FAQs - Suicide

A. Unfortunately, there have been incidences reported of deliberate exposure to paraquat by people intent on committing suicide. While crop protection products are one of the methods used, they are not one of the most frequent and paraquat is not the most frequently used product (WHO, 2001, FDA 2003, Ministry of Agriculture, India, 2000). Often paraquat-related suicides are highlighted in the media because it is a well-known and very popular product. Studies have been carried out to assess progress with reducing suicides. The results of these studies indicate that progress is being made. For example, in Malaysia, “Following a peak in the 1980s, suicide fatalities involving paraquat have decreased” (Sabapathy, 1995). Additional information about suicide can be found here: World Health Organization (WHO) “Thailand’s Country Profile on Pesticide Poisonings” - Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2003) “A Report on Harmonized Pesticide Poisoning Database in India” - Ministry of Agriculture, India (1999-2000)
A. It is important to note that paraquat is only one of many chemicals used in suicide attempts. In the countries with the largest rural suicide problems - China and India - the main class of Crop Protection Products (CPPs) is insecticides. Because of their wide use on smallholdings and farms, crop protection chemicals are readily available for these tragic and often impulsive acts. Often paraquat-related suicide is highlighted in the media because it is a well-known and very popular product. Solutions to the problem of CPP-related suicides are being implemented. Projects that promote and encourage safe storage of CPPs under lock and key are showing extremely encouraging results. Where legislation to lock up CPPs is in place and enforced, mainly in developed countries, self-harm using these products is thankfully extremely rare.