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Suicides

Paraquat and other pesticides with acutely toxic effects are repeatedly abused as means of committing suicide.

With the help of studies in a large number of countries, a scientific study has estimated that 233,997 – 325,907 people die each year as the result of intentionally ingesting pesticides. This accounts for almost one third of all suicide-related deaths throughout the world. Drinking highly toxic pesticides is therefore the most frequently used method of committing suicide. Suicides using pesticides are relatively rare in Europe and North America, whereas countries in Asia (in particular) are affected far more severely by this problem.

Paraquat is one of the pesticides that is most frequently used for suicide because its action is acutely toxic. There is no antidote. One swallow of the herbicide is usually sufficient to produce a lethal effect. The mortality rate for paraquat suicide attempts is comparatively high, at 42 to 80% (here, here, here and here). The number of suicides using paraquat throughout the world is estimated as several tens of thousands per year. Bans or drastic restrictions on availability have proven to be the only effective means of preventing pesticide suicides. Many doctors and scientists in severely affected countries are calling for corresponding legal regulations on paraquat (here, here and here).