819 incidents of suicide reported in armed forces in last 5 years: Govt

NEW DELHI: A total of 819 armed forces personnel committed suicide in the last five years, with the Army reporting a maximum of 642 such cases, according to details provided by the government.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt has said the Indian Air Force reported 148 cases of suicide in the said period, while the number in the Indian Navy was 29.
The minister’s reply on Monday came following a question on the number of servicemen and ex-servicemen who committed suicide in the last five years.
“For management of stress and suicides in services, the armed forces are continuously evolving measures to improve the stress mitigating mechanisms. An elaborate mental health programme has been formulated and is in vogue since 2009,” Bhatt said.
He said various mechanisms to observe and identify armed forces personnel with problems such as depression and suicidal tendencies are in place.
“Personnel at high risk of stress are identified and counselled by unit commanding officers, regimental medical officers and junior leaders as per laid down procedures,” the minister said.
He said all the personnel returning to the units after leave are interviewed, counselled and medically examined by the regimental medical officers.
In the Army, he said the issue of stress is being addressed by the commanders in a comprehensive manner at various levels.
“Sessions for stress management are organised by commanders and psychiatrists at all major stations. Counselling is an intrinsic component of 23 psychiatric centres in the Army manned by well trained and qualified psychiatrists and psychiatric nursing assistants,” Bhatt added.
The Rajya Sabha Secretariat uploaded the questions on its website on Tuesday.

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