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787 suicides reported in Indian armed forces since 2014, most from Army

A file photo of Indian Army soldiers on a patrol near Dal Lake in Jammu & Kashmir | Praveen Jain | ThePrint

A total of 787 armed forces personnel died by suicide since 2014 with the Army reporting a maximum of 591 such cases, according to data provided by the government on Monday.

In response to a question, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik told Rajya Sabha there were 18 incidents of fratricide in the Army and two in the Indian Air Force during the period.

According to the details furnished by the minister, the Army reported 591 cases of suicide, the Navy 36, while the number in the Indian Air Force was 160 between 2014 and 2021 (till date).

Naik said the armed forces have devised measures to deal with mental health issues of their personnel and prevent incidents of suicide and fratricide.

“The issue of stress and strain 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,” Naik said.

He said counselling has been an intrinsic component of 23 psychiatric centres in the Army which are manned by well-trained and qualified psychiatrists.

“Specific measures have been put in place as part of the multi-pronged strategy to address stress in Army,” Naik said, adding these include sensitisation of commanders on the subject, welfare measures like provision of adequate married accommodation and recreation facilities.

He said various workshops and lectures on mental health and stress management are being organised by the IAF as part of its ‘Mission Zindagi’ campaign which is conducted quarterly at all stations.

The Indian Navy has established mental health centres in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Port Blair, Goa and Karwar where family counsellors provide psychological counselling, the minister added.

“In addition, based on the finding of the studies conducted by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR), the government has taken several steps towards stress amelioration amongst troops,” Naik said.