Mumbai Cops Grapple With Stress & Suicides

Mumbai Cops Grapple With Stress & Suicides

Between 2018 and 2023, over 800 police personnel died of alleged suicides, other illnesses; factors such as odd duty hours, irregular eating times, and the resultant health issues highlight serious health challenges

Megha KuchikUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 09:36 PM IST
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Mumbai Traffic Police | Vijay Gohil

The Mumbai police face one of the most challenging jobs, from crime control to traffic management, facing constant pressure and neglecting their health. Limited leaves, extensive duties, and a high crime rate contribute to stress, impacting both physical and mental well-being, with rising concerns about officers taking their own lives.

Police suicides become more frequent

However, the cases of cops taking their own lives have become a concerning issue. Recently, there have been incidents where two police personnel allegedly took their own lives. In Nashik, 47-year-old inspector of police Ashok Najan allegedly shot himself with his service revolver inside his cabinet at Ambad police station. The motive behind his suicide remains unclear.

Another incident occurred in Mumbai, where inspector of police Prahlad Bansode, 43, associated with the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad of Mumbai Police, allegedly took his own life on February 27 at his residence in Santacruz East. Reportedly, he hanged himself from the ceiling of the ninth-floor passage in the police quarters at Kalina near the university. Preliminary reports suggest he was suffering from depression. In January, a 39-year-old constable, Eknath Gavli, allegedly died by suicide by jumping from the second floor of Nagpada police hospital.

Factors affecting cops' mental health

According to data revealed by police sources, between 2018 and 2023, over 800 police personnel in Mumbai died due to alleged suicides and various illnesses. Factors such as odd duty hours, irregular eating times, and the resultant health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and a high number of deaths related to heart disease (168), highlight the serious health challenges faced by the cops. The Covid-19 pandemic further exacerbated the situation, with 123 police personnel losing their lives in Mumbai.

The city, known for its political affairs and financial prominence, attracts VIPs and witnesses celebrations of diverse religious festivals, leading to the cancellation of leaves across the Mumbai police department. The current political instability in Maharashtra adds to the workload, requiring increased deployment of police personnel. Despite the official rule of an eight-hour duty for constables, practical challenges often result in extended working hours. The difference between Mumbai’s population and the number of police personnel intensifies the pressure on the force.

In the previous year, a medical camp organised by the police department saw only 325 police personnel participating. Similarly, a training program related to preliminary treatment and a health examination for staff and officers in the crime branch was conducted sporadically. While over 85% of crime branch police participated in the health checkup campaign, these initiatives need to be more consistent for the nearly 45 thousand-strong police force.

A police officer said, “We do not have fixed duty hours, we are obligated to fulfil our duties. Most of the time, we are on duty for 12 hours a day, and during festivals, we seldom receive leaves due to the demands of our work profile.”

“The reality behind suicides involves various factors, not solely work pressure. Once you embrace the police profession, following rules is essential once you choose this career. Policing is a service-oriented job, and our commitment to duty is crucial. Officers and police personnel have 22 casual leaves annually, and if needed, they can also take earned leave for more than 15 days.”

Year and Deaths

2018 - 129

2019 -144

2020 - 230

2021 - 160

2022 - 115

2023 - 50+

Disease and Death (2018-2023)

Disease and Death

Heart Attack - 168

Covid - 123

Liver/Kidney/Jaundice - 77

Cancer - 55

Blood Pressure/Diabetes - 46

Accident - 45

Suicide - 31

TB - 22

Other - 254

Reasons

Ignoring health

Irregular medical check-ups

Irregular eating times

Odd duty hours

Lack of physical exercise due to lack of time and workload

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