Pesticide poisoning leading suicide method in villages

Shafaq Shah

Srinagar: Every day, on an average, a youth from rural Kashmir consumes an insecticide or pesticide to end his or her life. One or two per cent of them succeed. Despite this alarming rate, the government and law enforcing agencies have taken no measures to prevent easy availability of these dangerous substances.
“Most patients survive, as most drop these substances after taking a sip. Only one to two percent of them die. But we do get such cases with an alarming regularity,” said a doctor at SMHS Hospital, which receives the maximum number of such cases.
Compared to other methods of suicide such as overdose of antidepressants, toilet cleaners, hanging or drowning, poisoning by insecticides and pesticides is the most common among rural youth.
Most rural households are involved in some kind of farming and insecticides and pesticides are as common in households as grocery items.
After hue and cry over acid attacks on women, the Supreme Court of India had banned the sale of acid. Similarly, law enforcing agencies frequently raid drug stores to check over-the-counter sale of cough syrups and other drugs used by youth as alternatives to liquor and other intoxicants. But nothing has been done to check the abuse of insecticides and pesticides.
Minister for horticulture Ghulam Nabi Lone said, “We will not let this happen. We will curb this menace. Right now, I can’t say how we will do that.”
Commissioner secretary (agriculture) Asghar Samoon said the health department and the police should create awareness among the people.
“Pesticides and insecticides are important for food production, but there has to be a check on its use,” he said.
Suicide attempts by consumption of insecticides become common during declaration of examination results, a doctor at the emergency department of the SMHS said.
“That is the time parents should become alert,” she said.
At first, the doctor said, patients offer flimsy reasons for taking such extreme step, such as a fight with a sibling or scolding by father.
“But it becomes evident later that there are other reasons. I remember a girl whose brother had caught her speaking to her boyfriend on phone had been beaten up severely. And the girl committed suicide,” she said.