Farmer suicides rise-A A +A
Monday, September 9, 2013
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Researchers from Benguet State University (BSU) expressed alarm over the rise in the number of local farmers considering suicide.
Ruth Batani, BSU project head for Research and Development, and a team of researchers presented to the Provincial Board a research journal on suicide in the context of cash crop farming revealing an increase in self-induced deaths in the province.
The BSU research focuses on the alarming suicide phenomenon prevalent among farmers and their kin making use of pesticide and herbicides as a suicide aid.
Researcher data show that from 2008 to 2009, suicides logged reached 32 cases coming from the age brackets of those 15 to 24 years old.
The team of researchers headed by Batani, Stanley Anongos Jr., Mursha Gapasin, Rachelle De Guzman, Betty Listino, Beverly Sa-Ao, Tecah Sagandoy and Gregorio Taag started working on the research journal in 2009 when issues concerning farmer suicide were first raised.
Listino said it is high time for political leaders and other concerned agencies to act on the problem. She said there should be a strict implementation of policies, laws, and ordinances on liquor ban, and the use of red labeled pesticide in farming.
She further said there should be restricted access to highly lethal methods as well as defining boundaries of the operation of "sites – of recreation" such as videoke bars. She explained the province needs firm implementation of these laws because most of the suicide victims were drunk when they committed the act. It is also the source of teasing among friends which usually lead to committing suicide.
She added the government should also do intensified monitoring of chemicals in the market. At present, there are red labeled chemicals which are not supposed to be at the market but are still in the market because of weak monitoring and implementation of laws. These are just few among the recommendations of the project.
It was also in 2009 when Governor Nestor Fongwan asked the Fertilizer and Pest Authority (FPA) to probe and pull out a brand of herbicide linked to several suicides in the province.
A restricted herbicide manufactured then by Syngenta, which had no known antidote, was behind 13 suicides in 2009 alone.
Data from doctors, clinics and hospitals both here and in Baguio City from year 2007 to 2008 show there were 17 people who died after taking the herbicide; only three survived.
The profile of suicide cases show victims were relatively young and 73 percent of deaths from males. The research accounted for a total of 52 deaths from 1961 to 2010, with almost all cases using pesticides.
Alarmingly, a suicide cluster was observed in 2008 – 2010 registering 38 deaths.
Results of the research show the self-inflicted injures happen when victims are under the influence of alcohol. The underlying reasons for the suicides cannot be attributed to a sole factor, Batani said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the BSU will conduct a suicide forum to discuss the research as well as the findings, bringing in experts and resource speakers. (with Rubyloida Bitog)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 10, 2013.