The final draft report of a task force established by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to come up with an action plan addressing suicide prevention in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles (AR) indicates that 80% of suicides occur when personnel return to duty after leave.
Primary personal factors contributing to suicides include the death of a spouse or family member, marital discord or divorce, financial difficulties, and inadequate education opportunities for children.
The report highlights that suicide triggers can stem from both family and duty-related issues, with smoother experiences on either front significantly reducing personnel stress levels. It notes a lower incidence of suicide attempts among female personnel compared to males, attributing male reluctance in sharing problems for fear of ridicule from peers.
Additionally, while acknowledging professional challenges as potential triggers, majority of personnel agreed that these are not the sole cause of suicides.
The report described fratricides as psycho-social phenomena with profound implications on forces’ discipline, trust, and camaraderie. Common causes identified include challenging service conditions, delays in obtaining leave, particularly during family emergencies, reaction to criticism or harassment, and unresolved problems escalating due to colleagues’ actions.
As per the report, provocation leading to violence is often sparked by humiliation, criticism, family issues, denied leave, abusive language, or unfair duty assignments, with humiliation cited as the primary trigger.
The Way Forward
The report has also suggested key recommendations and the way forward in different forces. “In different forces, so far, the efforts made towards stress management are haphazard, sporadic and generally not carried to their logical conclusions,” the report said.
Key recommendations addressing this gap can broadly be classified into four categories. “Initiatives ensuring mental well-being, strengthening job/service conditions and welfare-related initiatives, facilitating communication, advocacy and outreach related-initiatives and interactional opportunities-related initiatives.”
Vacancies & Promotion Should be on Priority
The task force’s final draft recommendation talks about filling vacancies and promotions on priority. “Major constraint in grant of timely leave to the force personnel is large number of vacancies and operational commitments of the units. Therefore, vacancies in all ranks may be filled on priority.”
The task force has also suggested that transparent leave management system be ensured. Provision for leave reserve at each rank may help in liberal grant of leave and transparent transfer policy should be ensured, it says. Inadequate promotional avenues in the service demoralise the personnel. Therefore, the promotion policy may be reviewed so as to boost the morale of jawans, it adds.
The Task Force
The Union Home Ministry had constituted the task force under the Chairmanship of DG, CRPF with Special DG/Additional DG level officers of other CAPFs/Assam Rifles as its members in October 2021.
The first meeting of the task force was held under the chairmanship of special secretary (IS) in December 2021. The second meeting was held under the chairmanship of special secretary (IS) in February 2022, in which all CAPFs/AR were requested to send their study reports.
The drafting committee, after thorough study and analysis of the data provided by all forces/ADG (Medical) and in-consultation with experts of NIMHANS and Amrita University, prepared the final draft report with recommendations for further actions.
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