High rates of paraquat-induced suicide in southern Trinidad

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Summer 1999;29(2):186-91.


The suicide rate in Trinidad and Tobago is much greater than that of its English-speaking Caribbean neighbors. Many of these suicides are paraquat induced. This research reviewed the deaths due to suicide in the area with the greatest agricultural activity in Trinidad for 1996 and identified, for further demographic and etiological investigation, cases in which paraquat was ingested as the agent of suicide. Of 48 cases of suicide for the year, 39 (81.3%) were due to paraquat poisoning. The incidence of paraquat-induced suicide was 8.0 per 100,000. Among the males, 47.8% were in the age group 25-34 (p < 0.001), and among the females 50.0% were in the 15-24 age group (p < 0.05). Family-of-origin disputes were the most frequently cited precipitant, followed by marital problems. Individuals of East Indian origin accounted for 89% of the suicide victims (p < 0.001). When compared with suicide by other methods in the country, these findings confirm that paraquat poisoning is a significant means of suicide in Trinidad and that young East Indian individuals are particularly vulnerable.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Herbicides / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraquat / poisoning*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Trinidad and Tobago / epidemiology


  • Herbicides
  • Paraquat