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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 949076, 9 pages
Research Article

Household Survey of Pesticide Practice, Deliberate Self-Harm, and Suicide in the Sundarban Region of West Bengal, India

1Institute of Psychiatry, 7 D.L. Khan Road, Kolkata 700 025, India
2Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland
3Stuart Road Resource Centre, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Corby, Northants NN17 1RJ, UK
4University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Received 27 April 2013; Revised 26 July 2013; Accepted 30 July 2013

Academic Editor: Niranjan Saggurti

Copyright © 2013 Sohini Banerjee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The toxicological impact and intentional ingestion of pesticides are major public health concerns globally. This study aimed to estimate the extent of deliberate self-harm (DSH) and suicides (suicidal behaviour) and document pesticide practices in Namkhana block of the Sundarban region, India. A cross-sectional study was conducted in 1680 households (21 villages) following a mixed random and cluster design sampling. The survey questionnaire (Household Information on Pesticide Use and DSH) was developed by the research team to elicit qualitative and quantitative information. The Kappa statistic and McNemar’s test were used to assess the level of agreement and association between respondents’ and investigators’ opinions about safe storage of pesticides. Over five years, 1680 households reported 181 incidents of suicidal behaviour. Conflict with family members was the most frequently reported reason for suicidal behaviour (53.6%). The Kappa statistic indicated poor agreement between respondents and investigators about safe storage of pesticides. The pesticide-related annual DSH rate was 158.1 (95% CI 126.2–195.5), and for suicide it was 73.4 (95% CI 52.2–100.3) per 100,000. Unsafe pesticide practice and psychosocial stressors are related to the high rates of suicidal behaviour. An intersectoral approach involving the local governments, agricultural department and the health sector would help to reduce the magnitude of this public health problem.