11 suicides in 3 years in Tihar, stress blamed

Eleven prisoners of Tihar Jail committed suicide and 16 attempted suicide in last three years till September 30, mainly because of stress due to their court cases.

Last year, December 16 gang-rape accused Ram Singh had committed suicide using a bucket and rugs made available to the prisoners.

Around 40 prisoners were also not released even after they were granted parole or bail this year due to non-availability of surety and financial restraints.

“One of the riskiest times for prison suicides is near the time of the court appearance, especially when a guilty verdict and harsh sentencing may be anticipated. A great deal of the incidents occurred within three days of a court appearance,” said a Tihar Jail officer. 

To improve the mental condition of the prisoners, a legal aid and counselling center is functioning in the jail complex in west Delhi.

The officer also feels that yoga, meditation and spiritual activities are important components of reformation, rehabilitation and bring qualitative change in the life of the prisoners.

“A number of non-governmental organisations are helping in carrying out various activities,” said the officer, adding they also have a ‘Phone Call System’ to help prisoners communicate with their family and friends.

The facility was earlier available to prisoners only once a week, but it has now been made daily. More psychiatrists are also invited to the prison to counsel prisoners who are suffering from depression or show signs of depression.
Doctors’ visits

“Psychiatrists visit the jail in batches of four to five and identify prisoners who appear depressed. These are mostly those who are new to the environment. The doctors advise prisoners on various issues, listen to their problems, help them make friends inside the prison and get them used to the jail’s environment,” the officer added.

There is also a complex exclusively for lodging women female prisoners. They are allowed to keep their children with them in the jail up to six years of age.

“The deaths and suicides can be brought down if the staff are on a strict watch and prisoners are counselled at regular intervals,” the officer said.

The jail authorities have also installed 258 CCTV cameras to keep surveillance over the activities of the prisoners. 

About 250 more cameras will be functional from next January. “We also have 32 mobile phone jammers to rule out any possibility of use by the inmates,” the officer added.

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