Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Let us talk: .More BSF personnel are dying of mental illnesses than in the line of duty,..
It is not a sight we see very often in the Indian context. I am referring to Deepika Padukone speaking openly about her battle with depression a while ago. “When I was in pain, suffering alone… I was going about my day, posing for cameras… signing autographs. What nobody saw was that I would break down for no reason …getting out of bed was a struggle,” she wrote in Hindustan Times earlier this week. What made a successful actor, the daughter of a badminton world champion, go out on a limb and discuss her struggle to overcome depression? When I was reading about Deepika Padukone’s encounters with mental problems, I was reminded of the virtually unknown RK Shukla.
Unlike Padukone, Shukla never got a chance to face up to his anxieties and survive to tell the tale. Driven to tipping point by workplace stress, the Madhya Pradesh police head constable committed suicide when he was asked to clean drains on Gandhi Jayanti. Two days later, BSF jawan Dharam Singh shot himself with his service rifle at Sukma in Chhattisgarh, a hotbed of Naxalite insurgency. A few months before this, in separate incidents, three other Central Reserve Police Force jawans killed themselves in a similar fashion at camps in Bijapur, Dhamtari and Sukma.
This spate of suicides in the ranks of India’s police and central armed forces reminded me of a statement that BSF director general KK Sharma made during a workshop on mental health a few months ago: More BSF personnel are dying of mental illnesses than in the line of duty, Sharma had said. What is driving this cycle of depression, melancholy and subsequent suicide? In a demanding profession that entails putting in inhumanly long hours along with the responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s frontiers, the added burden of mental illness could prove to be the proverbial last straw that breaks the soldiers’ back.
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