New Delhi: Almost 800 personnel of Army, Navy and IAF died by suicide in the last seven years, while there were 20 cases of “fratricide”, once again underlining the need for better suicide prevention and stress management policies in the over 14-lakh strong armed forces.
The over 12-lakh Army lost 591 soldiers to suicide since 2014, while the number was 160 in IAF and 36 in Navy, said minister of state for defence Shripad Naik, in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on Monday. The defence establishment has taken some stress management measures but clearly much more needs to be done, with around 100 uniformed personnel taking their lives every year for decades now, as reported by TOI earlier. Protracted deployment along the borders with Pakistan and China as well as counter-insurgency operations do take a toll on the mental health and physical endurance of soldiers.
Soldiers posted in far-flung areas also undergo tremendous stress for not being able to take care of the problems facing their families back home, which could range from financial and marital problems to property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements.
In his reply, Naik said the government has taken “several steps towards stress amelioration amongst troops”. These include deployment of trained psychological counsellors, improvement in the quality of food and clothing for soldiers, training in stress management, provision of recreational facilities, ‘buddy system’, leave concessions, facilities for movement of troops from border areas and establishing a grievance mechanism in states.
“The issue of stress and strain is being addressed by the commanders in a comprehensive manner at various levels,” said Naik.
Specific measures have been put in place as part of the multi-pronged strategy in the Army, which include stress management sessions, psychiatric counselling and sensitisation of commanders on the subject, he added. Times of India