Suicide by pesticide poisoning: Findings from the island of Crete, Greece
Kastanaki, A.E., Kraniotis, C.F., Kranioti, E.F., Nathena, D., Theodorakis, P.N., & Michalodimitrakis, M.
Background: The role of pesticides in suicidal acts has not yet received adequate attention in Greece despite an evident rise of 39% in pesticide use over the period 1990-1992 to 2002-2004. Aims: To investigate the epidemiology of pesticide suicide on the Greek island of Crete, a largely rural agricultural area, and by further exploring the victim profiles, as well as patterns and trends of pesticide ingestion, to suggest probable preventive measures. Methods: Self-poisoning suicides between 1999 and 2007 were reviewed and information gathered was entered into a computerized database. Results: The overall incidence of intentional pesticide poisoning was 1.7 per 100,000, representing the second most frequently used suicide method after hanging. The victim profile was composed of the following features: middle aged male, rural habitant, who carried out a suicidal act by consuming primarily methomyl or paraquat (WHO toxicity class Ib and class II, respectively). As to the place of death, the vast majority was found dead in the place of intoxication. Conclusions: Pesticide self-poisoning accounts for a quarter of the suicides in Crete. More detailed research is required to identify aspects of these deaths amenable to prevention, but measures such as bans on the most toxic pesticides and changes in storage practice would appear to be sensible initial approaches.