In Sri Lanka, producers of the illicit liquor kasippu sometimes suspend a bottle of pesticide above the vat during the fermentation process. It is believed the kasippu will absorb the potency of the pesticide and add to its strength, increasing drinkers’ intoxication and pleasure. But there is also a danger the pesticide will fall in, and if so the batch will be poisoned and mass injuries and even deaths ensue. Why do kasippu drinkers take this risk?
After a decade of decline, Sri Lanka’s suicide rate – once among the highest in the world – is reported to be on the rise once again. It’s too early to tell whether this is a temporary blip or the beginnings of something more serious. But what is known is that the fall in the suicide rate was the result of "means restriction" – chiefly banning the most toxic pesticides – not falling levels of suicide attempts overall. Although Sri Lanka has gained a reputation for progressive agrochemical regulation as a result, the evidence suggests that the number of suicide attempts has actually increased, with suicidal behaviour remaining a leading cause of serious injury and death in the country.
This blog archives the public interface of my research, reporting impact and engagement activities and linking to articles I've posted on external blogs.