Suicides Among Armed Forces IN J&K

Dr. Bashir A Dabla
Dr. Bashir A Dabla

Suicide refers to a conscious act by an individual to kill and end his or her life. It is essentially a social act and reflects social action which reveals the failure of social solidarity and stands indicative of ineffectiveness of social forces.

Following the global pattern, the Indian society has experienced a steady rise in suicides that increased from 08.47 (per lakh) in 1989 to 10.50 in 2006. While states of Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had higher rates of suicide, i.e. 48.60, 26.30, 21.60 and 20.90 respectively, the lower rates were observed in states like Bihar [01.00], Nagaland [01.10], J&K {01.90], Uttar Pradesh [02.10} and Uttrakhand [02.60].

Like other vulnerable sections of society, the armed forces fraternity has experienced higher, even alarming, level of suicides. The counter insurgency operations in Kashmir region created a social-psychological environment in which huge number of suicides among civilians and armed forces could neither be avoided nor controlled.

The unofficial estimates put the total number of suicides at 7,000 to 20,000 during last 20 years and the armed forces’ share is estimated between 1,500-2,000 suicides during this period. This author carried out a sociological study of suicides in Kashmir during the period of 2009-2011 [see author’s forthcoming book entitled “Increasing Suicides in Kashmir: A Sociological Study] and he puts the armed forces’ share of suicides around 2,000 cases, all of which were not published in the local press. However, the author collected the relevant information from the local press and inferred/established the following propositions about various features of suicides in the armed forces in J&K:

The suicides among the armed forces, had an all-India character, i.e. these suicides were committed by members of all age groups, these forces who belonged to all regions and states of the country, with slightly higher number being from the southern states.

Dominant – near total – majority of personnel who committed suicide was of married persons. Majority of these belonged to rural areas and were males. These personnel largely belonged to lower cadres with no specific religious background.

In terms of literacy, all suicide makers were literate.

The common methods of committing suicides in the state were identified as shooting oneself, consuming poison, burning oneself, hanging and jumping into river.

The most important apparent reason was denial of leave by authorities. The second apparent reason reported in the press was that they often felt depressed after counter-insurgency operations which necessarily involved abuse, excesses, atrocities and violation of basic human rights of civilian population. The third reason reported was that despite harsh and unbearable conditions in J&K, they were not provided all necessary basic facilities needed for their safety and security. The fourth apparent reason reported was the verbal inter-personal altercation between various members of armed forces on material and non-material issues which often led to the attempt of committing suicide.

Finally, all cases of suicide in armed forces in J&K were investigated officially. But, all reports were kept confidential and not released.

In the context of above findings, it seems important that a scientific, professional and comprehensive study/survey of suicides in the armed forces in J&K must be carried out immediately. The necessary records must be made available to the experts in the academic field to identify the trend and direction of these suicides.

1 COMMENT

  1. Excellent Piece….We are approaching to the higher suicide rates,there is a dire need to unfold the causes and more importantly make all efforts to curb such a devastating trend.I appreciate Dr Dabla’s sincere work on Kashmir Sociology which he has been doing tirelessly.

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