Indian army gets lessons to stop suicides | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Indian army gets lessons to stop suicides

The Indian army is giving its soldiers psychology lessons to counter a rise in suicides and murders within the forces, caused by depression.

delhi Updated: Jun 09, 2007 20:46 IST
Palash Kumar

The Indian army is giving its soldiers psychology lessons to counter a rise in suicides and murders within the forces brought on by stress, its top psychologist said on Friday.

India's 1.1 million-strong army has recorded an annual average of 100 suicides in recent years, mainly due to the rigours of combatting revolts in Kashmir and the remote northeast.

Dozens of soldiers, including officers, have also been killed by colleagues in quarrels over not being granted leave and other personal issues.

About 50 junior officers have now been trained in psychology to help their men battle stress.

"We have to look at the early warnings," Manas K Mandal said. "At times, these events can be prevented."

Stress levels are high among soldiers posted in Kashmir and troops regularly kill their comrades in a region where a separatist revolt has claimed more than 45,000 lives since 1989.

The army has been trying to bring down stress levels by introducing yoga to soldiers who face danger not only from militants but also tough terrain and extreme weather conditions.

Mandal, who heads the Defence Institute of Psychological Research, said he had interviewed about 2,000 military personnel and identified nearly 150 reasons for rising stress levels in what is the second largest army in the world after China.

The soldiers should get counselling before they go on leave and also on returning to help them develop a strong attachment to their units, Mandal said.

He also suggested other measures such as self-help steps to de-stress and encouraging soldiers not to shy away from seeking professional help, he added.

Changes would also be made in the selection of troops so that "we get the right man for the right job", said Mandal