There are scores of reasons why a given individual might think about or consider suicide, and many of them are deeply personal. But sometimes, the cause of such thoughts and overwhelming feelings may have a lot to do with the local environment, an issue that mental health professionals, public health workers, and governments are especially concerned about addressing. Recently, an extensive survey was carried out in parts of China that described a strong link between various uses and storage methods of common pesticides and incidences of suicidal thoughts. The survey was conducted following rising concerns over national suicide rates and outcry over the use of organophosphates, pesticides that have been banned in most Western countries but are still employed in many parts of the world.
The survey examined the mental health and suicidal ideas primarily in farmers and their families living in rural areas. With large amounts of the organophosphate pesticides used to grow various crops, those living in such areas are easily able to absorb low dosages through the lungs and skin. Farmers and others who live in rural environments are exposed to the pesticides through the consumption of contaminated crops, and may also receive unhealthy dosages by storing the pesticides in unsafe ways or in excessive amounts. Over time, this exposure may lead to mental health issues, a side effect which has resulted in the discontinuation of organophosphates in the west.
Until the completion of this survey, however, a direct link between chronic exposure to the pesticides and suicidal thoughts had not been established, making the research an important step in the quest to phase out the use of organophosphates worldwide. It is hoped that less harmful pesticides and safer storage methods will be introduced to the Chinese countryside to help lower rates of suicide and improve quality of life.
Phys.org. (2009, October 22). Pesticides exposure linked to suicidal thoughts. King’s College London. Retrieved from http://phys.org/news175425605.html
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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