There is a growing body of evidence that restricting access to high-lethality pesticides is effective for preventing suicide. Bans on the sale of certain substances have been shown to reduce suicide rates, but sales restrictions have a smaller effect. Despite these findings, sales restrictions are still a viable solution to reducing the risk of pesticide overdose. More research is needed to assess how well sales restrictions will affect suicide rates and crop yields.
While there are few high-quality studies that examine the effect of limiting pesticide access, some studies have suggested that restrictions have led to a reduction in the number of suicides. Four of seven studies that examined the impact of sales restrictions on suicides found that sales of three commonly used pesticides decreased by over 50% in India, Denmark, and the USA. The trend for overall suicide deaths was similar in two other countries, but not statistically significant.
Despite the lack of high-quality studies comparing the effects of sales restrictions on suicide, there are some encouraging findings. In countries where pesticide use is restricted, the number of suicides decreases. In India, the first major country to impose sales restrictions, the number of suicides decreased by 24%. In the USA, the incidence of pesticide-related death fell by 24%, and in Denmark, it was reduced by almost half.
A study on India found that limiting pesticide sales to occupational use significantly decreased the risk of suicide. In comparison, the rate of suicide due to pesticide use was unchanged between 1998 and 2002. In the USA, the number of pesticide-related deaths did not decrease, while the rate of suicide caused by a pesticide did. However, the incidence of suicide due to a pesticide was reduced in Finland, despite a decrease in the number of users. In fact, suicides caused by pesticides increased during the period.
While few studies are available on restricting access to pesticides for occupational uses, there is an ongoing trend that may be relevant. A recent study found that suicides involving these substances decreased by 7% in three years. While these findings are promising, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of such restrictions. In addition, the studies on other kinds of pesticides may prove to be inconclusive. The risks and benefits of limiting access to high-lethality pesticides are unknown.
Although the overall risk of pesticides is relatively small compared to the total number of deaths from other causes, the studies on the impact of a ban on suicide were mixed. The study also found no significant effect on overall suicide rates. In fact, in some countries, the ban on pesticides only reduced the risk of suicide by 2%. Its effects on overall suicide rates are less clear. The bans on these products were only partially effective.