Mental health

Restricting access to the means for suicide

Restricting access to the means for suicide is effective in preventing suicide – particularly impulsive suicide – as it gives those contemplating suicide more time to reconsider. Most persons who engage in suicidal behaviour are ambivalent about wanting to die at the time of the act, and some suicidal acts are impulsive responses to acute psychosocial stressors. Restricting access to the means for suicide (including pesticides, firearms, heights, railway tracks, poisons, medications, sources of carbon monoxide such as car exhausts or charcoal) is a key component of suicide prevention efforts because it provides an opportunity for these individuals to reflect on what they are about to do and, hopefully, for the crisis to pass.

Pesticide suicides

A substantial proportion of global suicides are estimated to be due to intentional self-poisoning with pesticides. Pesticide suicides primarily occur in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Central America, South-East Asia and the Western Pacific.

Initiative on the Impact of Pesticides on Health

In the early 2000s, a WHO intersectoral global public health initiative was launched on the Impact of Pesticides on Hhealth: Preventing intentional and unintentional deaths from pesticide poisoning, with the overall goal to reduce morbidity and mortality related to pesticide poisoning.

Objectives of the initiative

  • Review and recommend improved pesticide policies.
  • Implement sustainable epidemiological surveillance and monitoring of pesticide poisoning in clinical settings and communities.
  • Develop or strengthen community programmes that minimize risks of intentional and unintentional pesticide poisoning.
  • Improve the medical management and mental health care of people with pesticide poisoning in health care facilities at different levels.
  • Provide training at different sectors and levels.


Community interventions

The feasibility and acceptability of one type of intervention - secure storage of pesticides - was tested in rural communities.

Clinical management