Three suicides by soldiers in Jammu in the last 10 days have brought the focus back to the failure of stress management in the armed forces, the army being the worse victim. Fratricides and desertions are common these days.
In 2006, 129 defence personnel committed suicide, and 13 died in fratricidal killings.
In 2007, the number of suicides dropped to 118. By 2008, they were up at 124 again; there were three incidents of fratricide.
As many as 41 suicides and one fratricidal killing were reported by July 13. In 2006, 1,401 deserted the forces, the figure for 2007 was 983.
The defence ministry had submitted before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, which looked into stress management in the defence forces, that sustained low intensity conflict was a reason behind psychological ailments, along with social and organisational problems.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Lt Gen T.K. Sapru, GOC-in-C, Western Command, said: “The army has trained junior commissioned officers for psychological training of soldiers. There are stress management classes... But at times... regiments aren’t able to follow this schedule.”