Indian Navy has introduced new suicide prevention policy, Defense Ministry tells Lok Sabha

A comprehensive suicide prevention policy among serving naval personnel has been in effect since April 12 this year, the Ministry of Defense told parliament.

File photo of Indian Navy personnel taking a moment to click on an image. (PTI)

The Indian Navy has put in place a policy to address the issue of suicides among military personnel, the Ministry of Defense informed Parliament on Tuesday (July 19th).

A comprehensive suicide prevention policy among serving Navy personnel was enacted on April 12, the Defense Ministry said.

The strategy is called Indian Navy Strategy for Mental Health Assistance Resilience and Training or IN-SMART. A free suicide hotline is available exclusively for Indian Navy personnel at INHS Asvini, the flagship hospital of the Indian Navy.

“Psychological counseling is also provided to the Department of Psychiatry at major naval stations. In addition to the seconded psychiatrist, clinical psychologists and counselors are hired for this purpose,” the Ministry of Defense said.

The Department of Defense released the number of suspected suicides in the armed forces over the past five years.

Army: 642

Aviation: 148

Marine: 29

The ministry said the government does not centralize data on former military suicides.

“For the management of stress and suicides in the services, the armed forces are constantly developing measures to improve mechanisms for mitigating stress. An elaborate mental health wellness program has been formulated and has been in vogue since 2009,” the MoD said.

The Ministry of Defense said various mechanisms to observe and identify armed forces personnel suffering from psychological problems, including depression and suicidal tendencies, are in place.

Detailed guidelines for the psychiatric examination, diagnosis, treatment and disposal of service personnel and their families with psychiatric disorders have been promulgated by the Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS).

Personnel at high risk of stress are identified and counseled by unit commanders, regimental doctors and junior leaders in accordance with procedures. All personnel returning to units after leave are interviewed, advised and examined by regimental doctors. Stress markers/stress warning signs are sought and motivational talks are given to all, the ministry said.

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