Setting up a central storage facility for pesticides and restricting their access could help in preventing pesticide-related suicides,claims a study funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The study published in the BMC public health journal on September 16 claimed that by setting up a central facility where each family had a locker to store their pesticides has the potential to reduce 295 suicides per one lakh population.
We undertook this study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of a centralised pesticide storage facility as a preventive intervention strategy in reducing pesticide suicides, Lakshmi Vijayakumar,the main author of the study and WHO consultant on suicide research and prevention,told The Indian Express.
The study was conducted in eight villages of Tamil Nadus Cuddalore district primarily engaged in floriculture which uses large amount of pesticides. Between 2008 and 2010,there were 26 incidents of pesticide-related suicide attempts and deaths. After we introduced the storage facility,the study registered a decline in the suicide cases,and it decreased to five in 2010-2012 period, said Vijayakumar.
As part of the study,two centralised storage facilities were constructed with the involvement of locals. The study started in 2010 and in the last one and a half years,a total of 4,308 individuals or 1,063 households were included in the intervention group (where the storage facilities were introduced) and 2,673 individuals or 632 households in the control sites.
Farmers had access to their pesticide storage boxes at any time during the day from about 7 am till 7 pm. A total of 248 households utilised the storage facility and most found it to be useful,safe and,conveniently located.The storage of pesticides in the homes due to the facility dropped from 44 per cent to 7 per cent,said the study.
The participants were largely appreciative of the storage facility both as a means of preventing suicides and for providing a safe place for storing pesticides. Usually we used to buy only two spray cans of pesticides before,but after the storage facility was set up we are now buying six spray cans as we are able to keep it safe at the storage centre, said one of the villagers.