Now, over four times more soldiers die battling their internal demons rather than fighting militants in Kashmir or the northeast . Stress-related deaths in the shape of suicides and “fragging” show no sign of flagging in the Army, with the toll alarmingly crossing the 100 mark year after year.
Consider the shocking figures . Just since 2001, 1,082 soldiers have committed suicide in the Army’s highly disciplined environs, while another 73 have died of fragging (to kill a fellow soldier) episodes. While 102 soldiers took the extreme step of ending their lives last year, 26 have died this year so far.
The situation is not much better in IAF, with over 20 airmen committing suicide every year. Navy is the best off, with its annual suicide cases remaining in single digits. Disclosing the latest figures in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday , defence minister A K Antony said, “Possible causative factors for soldiers committing suicide/fatricide are stress, personal problems and financial problems.”
“The government has taken several steps, like counselling , improvement in food and clothing, married accommodation , leave concessions, facilities for movement of troops from border areas and a grievance redressal mechanism in states,” he added.
But the measures do not seem to be working, even as the yearly tolls due to terrorism and road accidents have been brought under control over the last few years. Just 24 soldiers, for instance, were killed in action while fighting terrorists in J&K last year.
With the Army establishing “clear-cut ascendancy” in counter-infiltration and insurgency operations, the death toll of security forces has steadily declined since a high of over 300 in 2004.
On the stress-related front , the MoD-Army combine has got a fresh “psycho-social analytical study” done by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research ( DIPR). “The aim is to arrive at the tools to identify and spot the “at risk” soldiers. Two studies , one an impact analysis of counter-insurgency vis-a-vis peace areas and the other a psychological autopsy of suicides over the last three years, are being analyzed after being handed over to Antony ,” said a source.
-via The Economic Times.