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2-min read

Stress, harassment could be driving Tamil Nadu police officers to commit suicide

In her 8-page suicide note Vishnupriya said, "I like this job. My job is like my God but I don't think it's suitable for me. I made a mistake. This guilt is making it difficult for me."

Anna Isaac | CNN-IBN@anna_isaac

Updated:September 23, 2015, 12:50 PM IST
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Stress, harassment could be driving Tamil Nadu police officers to commit suicide
In her 8-page suicide note Vishnupriya said, "I like this job. My job is like my God but I don't think it's suitable for me. I made a mistake. This guilt is making it difficult for me."
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The suicide of Deputy Superintendent of Police Vishnupriya who was investigating a sensitive murder case in Namakkal, has raised several questions including whether she was under stress and pressure from her superiors.

In her 8-page suicide note Vishnupriya said, "I like this job. My job is like my God but I don't think it's suitable for me. I made a mistake. This guilt is making it difficult for me. As all say, maybe I am not fit for this department so I don't want to waste my time or that of others."

With her suicide, Vishnupriya's superiors are facing allegations of harassment. According to official figures, more than 150 police personnel in Tamil Nadu took their own lives in the last five years.

"There can't be one reason attributed to suicide. External factors play a vital role in triggering the person to get the idea to commit the actual act. It all depends on the individual, how you are able to take it or how you are able to cope with this situation. If you ask police personnel, they have haphazard working hours. It is not like they have fixed hours. You can't decide or plan your day. They face physical tiredness and psychological tiredness," says Psychologist in Lifeline Hospitals Dr Vasuki Mathivanan.

Vishnupriya's suicide has raised questions on whether women are mentally and physically tough enough to be in the police force.

"When you take up the case of police, the work load is very heavy especially when vacancies are also high. There are nearly 20,000 vacancies. This adds to the overloaded persona. So no rest for them. Long hours of work, neglect of families, their inability to attend social functions creates turmoil at home. Even if serving personnel falls sick, it isn't easy for him to get leave. It will be easily interpreted as malingering for duty," Retired DGP G Thilakavathi said.

Following reports of sexual harassment in the past, steps were taken according to Vishaka Guidelines, but most of them remains on paper. A grievance redressal cell was set up as per the Vishaka guidelines and parades are also carried out every week to listen to police personnel but this remains largely in theory.

"We have a Vishaka cell headed by a lady ADGP. Besides her, there are other 4 other committee members. Anyone can be approached. I am afraid as to how many girls know it and how many girls make use of it and have confidence to march to senior most officer and tell them these are my grievances," G Thilakavathi said.

While experts say there are enough checks and balances within the police department to address complaints and hear out grievances of police personnel, the recent suicide of DSP Vishnupriya should serve as a wake-up call for officials in Tamil Nadu to breathe life into the system once again.

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