Access to pesticides should be more strictly controlled in rural areas to reduce the number of suicides, experts said, in the wake of four siblings who committed suicide by ingesting pesticides in Bijie, Guizhou province.
Research conducted by doctors at the Huilongguan hospital in Beijing in 2013 found that 80 percent of suicide attempts in rural areas involved the use of pesticides.
Li Xianyun, director of the hospital’s Suicide Prevention Center, who took part in the research, said most people who attempt suicide in rural areas do not meet the criteria to be classified as mentally ill, but they do have high levels of impulsiveness and aggression.
"That means suicide-prevention efforts should be less focused on the identification and treatment of mental disorders and more focused on limiting access to fatal insecticides and weed killers," Li said.
In the Bijie case, the eldest child, 13-year-old Zhang Qigang, left a note in which he said he had dreamed of committing suicide for years because he had sworn not to live past the age of 15.
The case was the sixth since 2008 in which left-behind children have attempted suicide. In two of those cases, the children tried to end their lives by drinking pesticides.
"It’s high time that the country further tightened the regulations concerning pesticides, including the sales and production processes," Li said. "The number of rural suicides would be significantly reduced if we controlled pesticides more effectively," she added.
She said the authorities should consider a wider range of measures, including mandatory requirements that pesticides should be kept in locked boxes in secure areas, because research conducted by the suicide prevention center found that measures such as these would significantly reduce the suicide rate.
In the first two months of last year, 45 people attempted suicide by using with pesticides within a 45-day period in Longyan, Fujian province, according to local media reports
In 2013, Zhong Dongbo, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Health, told People’s Daily that stricter controls on pesticides — especially with regard to sales — should be part of the country’s suicide-prevention measures.
In 2012, the suicide rate in rural areas stood at 9.09 per 100,000 for men and 8.05 per 100,000 for women, according to the China Year Book of Health, published by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.