Govt frames guidelines to tackle suicides in CAPF

Govt frames guidelines to tackle suicides in CAPF

The guidelines, which were framed by a Board of Officers of psychiatrists, were handed over to the paramilitary forces by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month and asked for its strict implementation. (File Photo)

With one paramilitary personnel committing suicide every three days, the Government has come out with policy guidelines to tackle such cases, which include regular psychiatric evaluation and improving the grievance redressal mechanism.

The guidelines, which were framed by a Board of Officers of psychiatrists, were handed over to the paramilitary forces by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month and asked for its strict implementation.

Acknowledging to that, "Suicide and deliberate self-harm is prevalent in paramilitary forces, like any other armed forces." The policy said preventive measures were required to mitigate its effect on the forces so that they could effectively contribute to the cause of the nation's security.

Over 750 paramilitary personnel have committed suicide between 2012 and 2018 and the guidelines attribute it to "perceived stress" like denial of leave at the time of requirement, problems not being solved, and "sometimes simply to hold senior officers responsible for his/her death" among other reasons.

It also cites prolonged separation from family, easy access to weapons, suffering from prolonged illness, suffering from psychiatric diseases like depression and psychosis, alcohol dependence, financial stress, extramarital affairs, infidelity and love failures as reasons for personnel taking the extreme step.

The forces have now been advised to ensure a uniform and transparent policy for postings and leave that would send a message that no one is discriminated against. All paramilitary forces will have to conduct a 15-day mental health orientation course to educate personnel to detect early signs and symptoms of mental illness.

The officers should regularly interact with personnel and attempt to address problems even if they were seemingly impossible.

The force leadership also should not undermine threats or expressed suicide/death wish and should not ignore a change in behaviour. The guidelines said behaviour like particular personnel not going on leave as before, giving a miss to leisure activities and vague physical complaints should be dealt with promptly.

Personnel having psychological problems should not be given arms, it added.

The government's police think-tank Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) had conducted a study in 2004 into the factors causing stress while in 2012, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad also did a similar study for the BSF and the CRPF. Some of the reasons for committing suicide by police personnel cited in these studies were personal problems, illness and other family circumstances.

In July this year, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy told Lok Sabha various measures like conducting courses on stress management and meditation, health check camps, yoga classes, regular indoor and outdoor sports and group activities, liberal grant of leave and maintaining healthy and hygienic barrack environment were taken to tackle the issue of suicides among the personnel.

"Transparent policies pertaining to transfer and leave are followed and promotions and Modified Assured Career Progression (MACP) are regularly released to eligible personnel. Hospitalisation period due to injuries while on duty is treated as on duty. Posting of choice is considered to the extent possible," Reddy had said.

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