Suicide methods in South Asia over two decades (2001–2020)

S. M.Yasir Arafat, Syeda Ayat e.Zainab Ali, Vikas Menon, Fahad Hussain, Daniyal Shabbir Ansari, Anuradha Baminiwatta, Tamkeen Saleem, Rakesh Singh, Natarajan Varadharajan, Deepika Biyyala, Sujita Kumar Kar, Murad M. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Suicide is a global preventable public health problem. About a quarter of all suicides in the world occur in South Asia. As means restriction is an important suicide prevention strategy, gaining knowledge of the common suicide methods and their changing trends in each country and region is crucial. Aims: We aimed to assess the suicide methods in South Asian countries over the last two decades. Methods: A search was performed in PubMed, PubMed Central, Scopus, and Google Scholar with the search terms. Original articles of quantitative studies, published in the English language, from 2001 to 2020, with full-accessible text, that rank different methods of suicide in eight South Asian countries, were included. Results: A total of 68 studies were found eligible for review. The Maximum number of studies were found from India (n = 38), followed by Bangladesh (n = 12), Pakistan (n = 9), Sri Lanka (n = 6), and Nepal (n = 3). Hanging (n = 40, 55.8%) and poisoning (n = 24, 35.3%) were the two most common suicide methods reported, in that order. Hanging followed by poisoning were the commonest suicide methods in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan while in Sri Lanka, poisoning was the preferred method to hanging. There is a decline in suicide by poisoning and an increase in suicide by hanging in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India. Although hanging is still the commonest method in Pakistan, the use of firearms is growing in recent years (2011–2020). Conclusions: There is a steady decline in the incidence of suicides by poisoning following pesticide regulations in South Asian countries. However, there is heterogeneity of study methods, probable under-reporting of suicide, and lack of robust suicide data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-934
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • South Asia
  • Suicide
  • hanging
  • methods
  • poisoning
  • suicide prevention


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