80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

#22 - Dr Leah Utyasheva on the non-profit that figured out how to massively cut suicide rates

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin

How people kill themselves varies enormously depending on which means are most easily available. In the United States, suicide by firearm stands out. In Hong Kong, where most people live in high rise buildings, jumping from a height is more common. And in some countries in Asia and Africa with many poor agricultural communities, the leading means is drinking pesticide.

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of this issue before. And yet, of the 800,000 people who kill themselves globally each year 20% die from pesticide self-poisoning.

Full transcript, summary and links to articles discussed in today's show.

Research suggests most people who try to kill themselves with pesticides reflect on the decision for less than 30 minutes, and that less than 10% of those who don't die the first time around will try again.

Unfortunately, the fatality rate from pesticide ingestion is 40% to 70%.

Having such dangerous chemicals near people's homes is therefore an enormous public health issue not only for the direct victims, but also the partners and children they leave behind.

Fortunately researchers like Dr Leah Utyasheva have figured out a very cheap way to massively reduce pesticide suicide rates.

In this episode, Leah and I discuss:

* How do you prevent pesticide suicide and what’s the evidence it works?
* How do you know that most people attempting suicide don’t want to die?
* What types of events are causing people to have the crises that lead to attempted suicide?
* How much money does it cost to save a life in this way?
* How do you estimate the probability of getting law reform passed in a particular country?
* Have you generally found politicians to be sympathetic to the idea of banning these pesticides? What are their greatest reservations?
* The comparison of getting policy change rather than helping person-by-person
* The importance of working with locals in places like India and Nepal, rather than coming in exclusively as outsiders
* What are the benefits of starting your own non-profit versus joining an existing org and persuading them of the merits of the cause?
* Would Leah in general recommend starting a new charity? Is it more exciting than it is scary?
* Is it important to have an academic leading this kind of work?
* How did The Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention get seed funding?
* How does the value of saving a life from suicide compare to savings someone from malaria
* Leah’s political campaigning for the rights of vulnerable groups in Eastern Europe
* What are the biggest downsides of human rights work?

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