Exposure to pesticides or agroecological practices: suicidal ideation among peasant farmers in Brazil’s semi-arid region


Health risks faced by peasant farmers may vary depending on the type of agriculture they practice. This study examined the association between suicide ideation and exposure to pesticides by comparing two groups of peasant farmers of both sexes living in the semi-arid region of the north of Minas Gerais, Brazil: exposed to pesticides and adopting agroecological practices without the use of pesticides. Group participants were selected using convenience sampling and data was collected using a previously validated questionnaire administered through face-to-face interviews. Bivariate analysis was performed, followed by logistic regression. A total of 547 peasant farmers were interviewed (311 in the group exposed to pesticides and 236 in the group adopting agroecological practices). Respondents from the group exposed to pesticides were more likely to report suicidal ideation (OR=2.30; 95%CI 1.16-4.56), harmful alcohol consumption (OR=2.30; 95%CI 1.18-4.48), and lifetime acute pesticide poisoning (OR=8.58; 95%CI 2.98-24.72). The findings suggest that agricultural practices that lead to chronic pesticide exposure are associated with a greater likelihood of suicide ideation, regardless of previous episodes of acute pesticide poisoning or harmful alcohol consumption.

Authors: Carla Wernecke Padovani Gonzaga, Marcelo Perim Baldo, Antônio Prates Caldeira
; Full Source: Ciencia & saude coletiva 2021 Sep;26(9):4243-4252. doi: 10.1590/1413-81232021269.09052020.