Muhammad Ullah: The Indian armed forces are facing a disturbing trend of growing numbers of suicide deaths among its personnel. According to a report published in ‘The Times of India’, 1,100 Indian defence personnel died by suicide between 2010 and 2019, with the Army recording 895 suicides followed by 185 and 32 in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy, respectively. These numbers are alarming and have raised concerns about the mental health of Indian soldiers and their training and professionalism. The increasing suicide rate in the Indian army is not just a matter of concern for the Indian military but also a human rights issue.
The trend of suicide deaths in the Indian armed forces seems to be increasing with time. Between 2014 and 2021, the Army reported 591 cases of suicide, Navy 36, while the Air Force recorded 160 such cases. Indian armed forces have been losing over 100 soldiers every year due to non-combat reasons, with one soldier dying nearly every third day by either suicide or an attack by a brother soldier. These numbers point towards the need for immediate measures to address the root causes of this growing problem.
Various reasons have been cited behind these episodes, including long working hours, separation from families, lack of job satisfaction, poor living conditions, low morale, and lack of motivation, among others. The study conducted by the United Service Institution of India (USI) reported that suicide cases are on the increase due to increasing severe stress emanating from operational and non-operational assignments. Moreover, the pandemic has further worsened the situation by adding to the stress levels of the armed forces personnel.
It is worth noting that the suicide rate in the Indian Army works out to just about half of India’s rate of 16.5 suicides per 100,000 people. However, this is no consolation for the Indian army, and it should take immediate steps to address the issue. The government should invest in better mental health facilities and counseling services for its armed forces personnel. The Indian army should also take measures to improve the living conditions of its soldiers and ensure that they have adequate job satisfaction.
One of the main reasons behind the growing number of suicide deaths in the Indian armed forces is the lack of motivation among the personnel. Indian armed forces are known for trampling human rights but even after committing war crimes and crimes against humanity many personnel feel demotivated due to a lack of opportunities for career advancement and a sense of stagnation in their roles. Many also feel that their hard work and dedication are not recognized or rewarded adequately, leading to frustration and disillusionment.
The lack of professionalism and accountability in the armed forces is also a contributing factor to the problem. Many personnel feel that their concerns and grievances are not taken seriously by their superiors, leading to a sense of frustration and helplessness.