CHENNAI: Why there is a spurt in suicidal tendency among police personnel? The immediate thought that crosses one’s mind is workplace pressure and harassment by superior officers. However, there is a divergent view that is emerging in the aftermath of a few recent incidents. Officials are attributing the trend to a disturbed personal life.
In the last 20 days, one police constable allegedly committed suicide in Pudupet police quarters and another constable allegedly attempted to end his life. In both the cases, the reason cited is family and mental pressure. An inspector, who sought anonymity, opined that in most suicide cases, good police officers have turned out to be bad family men. When an officer commits suicide it is normally looked as pressure from senior officials which in most of the cases is untrue.
It’s other pressures that are at work like wrongly being blamed when a crime is reported, family disturbances, etc. He adds that despite putting laborious work, personnel are targeted by advocates and public. “For instance, in one of the recent protests, I myself was attacked by the protesters, but we were questioned for arresting the protesters. We hardly spend time with our family. I have two young daughters. By the time, I reach home, they would have slept and by then they wake up I would have left for work. This is the same for almost all police personnel,” he says.
Retired SP M Karunanithi endorsing the sentiments said it was a well-known fact that the duty of a police man is stressful. Certain officers blame their seniors while the others claim they don’t have time to juggle between personal and professional spaces. Another major problem is that some senior officers lack leadership qualities. They treat their juniors harshly without understanding the practical constraints. During training programme, it is made sure that the officers undergo psychology training. This mainly focuses on the psychology of the criminal and not keeping their mindset healthy, the retired officer said.
C Sylendra Babu, ADGP, Law and Order, says there could be multiple reasons behind the suicide of a police personnel, including family and financial difficulties. But the ratio of police personnel ending their lives is much lesser than the general public. This is because police personnel are secured with societal benefits like accommodation, children’s education and health coverage. “Often the reason cited is odd hours of duty. But if the individual takes it in right spirit, the problem could be solved,” he adds.
Most officers are unaware of their stress level. To overcome depression they should consult psychiatrist on a regular basis
-Dr Alexander Gnanadurai