Purpose: Suicide and self-harm by pesticide self-poisoning is common in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Alcohol is an important risk factor for self-harm; however, little is known about its role in pesticide self-poisoning. This scoping review explores the role that alcohol plays in pesticide self-harm and suicide.
Methods: The review followed the Joanna Briggs Institute scoping review guidance. Searches were undertaken in 14 databases, Google Scholar, and relevant websites. Articles were included if they focussed on pesticide self-harm and/or suicide and involvement of alcohol.
Results: Following screening of 1281 articles, 52 were included. Almost half were case reports (n = 24) and 16 focussed on Sri Lanka. Just over half described the acute impact of alcohol (n = 286), followed by acute and chronic alcohol use (n = 9), chronic use, (n = 4,) and only two articles addressed harm to others. One systematic review/meta-analysis showed increased risk of intubation and death in patients with co-ingested alcohol and pesticides. Most individuals who consumed alcohol before self-harming with pesticides were men, but alcohol use among this group also led to pesticide self-harm among family members. Individual interventions were recognised as reducing or moderating alcohol use, but no study discussed population-level alcohol interventions as a strategy for pesticide suicide and self-harm prevention.
Conclusion: Research on alcohol’s role in pesticide self-harm and suicide is limited. Future studies are needed to: further assess the toxicological effects of combined alcohol and pesticide ingestion, explore harm to others from alcohol including pesticide self-harm, and to integrate efforts to prevent harmful alcohol use and self-harm.