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To prevent suicides, police in Kashmir want to play volleyball

PUBLISHED ON JUL 31, 2016 11:04 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Recently, when the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) director-general, K Durga Parsad, visited Jammu & Kashmir to take stock of the situation, he met with an unusual demand from his personnel. Instead of narrating the difficulties they were encountering, the personnel requested for an indoor volleyball court, as they were missing out on their favourite sport due to rains.

It has long been felt that sports could be a remedy for controlling the suicidal tendencies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) who work under tremendous stress in the strife-torn state. On Wednesday, the Home Ministry informed Parliament that 393 CAPF personnel had committed suicide since 2013.

Most of the CAPF personnel are posted in the Northeast, J&K and Naxal-affected areas and encouraging them to adopt sport could be a way to bust stress.

The CAPF includes the Assam Rifles, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, National Security Guard and Sashastra Seema Bal.

“We are encouraging them to play whenever they get a chance,” says Parsad. “In J&K, they prepare makeshift volleyball courts whenever there is a chance to play. Sport helps in two ways — it helps reduce stress and builds camaraderie.”

The ministry conducts inquiry to ascertain the reason behind each suicide and it concluded that most of them were due to personal and domestic problems, besides illness.

“Among the predictors for suicides are deprivation, alcohol use and helplessness,” says Dr Kushal Jain, a senior psychiatrist at Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (VIMHANS), Delhi. “Two of these three indicators are fairly common among police personnel. They are stressed and become victims of alcohol abuse. And with access to dangerous weapons, you have a particularly high chance of them committing suicide,” says Dr Jain.

Recently, the CRPF, BSF and ITBP conducted a sport training programme for their personnel who had lost their limbs in operations. The purpose was to help them make their lives meaningful by making them go through a training programme in swimming, cycling and wheelchair tennis.

“The programme was successful and they now want to participate in the Paralympic Games,” says Durga Parsad.

“Recreation is an important thing. Most of them are clinically depressed. They need a more structured thing like meditation and psychotherapy and recreational activities such as sports,” says Dr Jain.

Beside sports activities, the CAPF has been emphasising on improving living conditions by providing adequate recreational, entertainment, yoga and communication facilities.

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