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Medicina Legal de Costa Rica

On-line version ISSN 2215-5287Print version ISSN 1409-0015


ANCHIA-JIMENEZ, Gabriel; CHAVERRI-VASQUEZ, Sara; CORDERO-SOLIS, Juan José  and  MORA-LOPEZ, Ivonne. Suicide attempts due to pesticide poisoning in Costa Rica during the 2010-2020 decade. Med. leg. Costa Rica [online]. 2021, vol.38, n.1, pp.131-145. ISSN 2215-5287.


Pesticides self-poisoning is one of the most popular suicide methods especially in lower middle class income agricultural countries. The objective of this research is to describe and analyze the epidemiological situation of suicide attempts due to pesticide poisoning in Costa Rica during the last decade.

Materials and methods:

Data of pesticides self-poisoning goes all the way from 2010 until October 2020. That information was collected from the National Center for Poisoning Control (CNCI, stands for the initials in spanish) database and National Institute for Statistics and Census (INEC in spanish) data of pesticides self-poisoning deaths from 2010-2019. All data was analyzed by sex, age, province, toxic agent, route of absorption, clinical severity and mortality.


There were 3240 total cases of suicide attempts due to pesticides during 2010-october 2020; 64.7% of this poisoning were in men and 35.3% in women, 31.9% of the poisoning persons were in age with a range between 20-29 years and 21% between 30-39 years old; 23.4% of cases were reported in Alajuela and 19.7% in San José; 75% of the cases used agricultural pesticide; 17.2% of the poisonings occurred due to Glifosato and 15.9% due to Paraquat; ingestion was the route of absorption in 98.3% of the cases; and 65.3% reported mild clinical severity. During 2010-2019, 432 people died due to suicide using pesticides as a weapon, which means an average mortality of 13.3% of all the suicide attempts with pesticides in this period.


Costa Rica´s epidemiology of suicide attempts using pesticides is very similar to international epidemiology, where most of the cases are young men that have access to pesticides and lived-in agricultural areas. It´s necessary to implement policies for the regulations, storage and proper management of pesticides in order to prevent suicide.

Keywords : Pesticides; poisoning; suicide attempt; suicide; mortality; epidemiology; prevention.

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