Year: 2020 Source: BMC Public Health. (2020). 20:780. SIEC No: 20200490

Background Sri Lanka has reduced its overall suicide rate by 70% over the last two decades through regulation of a series of agricultural pesticides. We aimed to identify the key pesticide(s) now responsible for suicides in rural Sri Lanka to provide data for further pesticide regulation. Methods We performed a secondary analysis of data collected prospectively during a cluster randomized controlled trial in the Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka from 2011-16. The identity of pesticides responsible for suicides were sought from medical or judicial medical notes, coroners’ records, and the person’s family. Trend analysis was done using a regression analysis with curve estimation to identify relative importance of key pesticides. Results We identified 337 suicidal deaths. Among them, 193 (57.3%) were due to ingestion of pesticides and 82 (24.3%) to hanging. A specific pesticide was identified in 105 (54.4%) of the pesticide suicides. Ingestion of carbosulfan or profenofos was responsible for 59 (56.2%) of the suicides with a known pesticide and 17.5% of all suicides. The increasing trend of suicides due to carbosulfan and profenofos was statistically significant (R square 0.846, F 16.541, p 0.027). Conclusion Ingestion of pesticides remains the most important means of suicides in rural Sri Lanka. The pesticides that were once responsible for most pesticide suicides have now been replaced by carbosulfan and profenofos. Their regulation and replacement in agriculture with less hazardous pesticides will further reduce the incidence of both pesticide and overall suicides in rural Sri Lanka.