Why suicides?

February 17, 2020


RECENTLY, a senior superintendent of police, who was a grade 18 officer of Pakistan Police Service, Abrar Nekokora, ended his life by his own pistol. There are unfortunately several other incidents of suicide by officers before this gruesome incident surfaced lately. Nekokara is said to have been psychologically disturbed.

Work-related structural and procedural changes in the organisations, including public sector need to be introduced immediately. For instance, in most European countries, staff does not work more than 48 hours per week on average, including overtime, over a reference period of up to four months.

In France, working week means35 hours only. On the other hand, several public sector departments in Pakistan do not follow internationally recognised trend of 48 hours labour per week and direct their employees to work beyond office hours. They even cancel their employees’ holidays — Saturday and Sunday — owing to workload and special assignments.

This eventually compels the employees to work beyond approximately 60 hours a week. Resultantly, stress and mental pressure are the outcome of such tense working atmosphere.

Moreover, additional overtime payments to the staff are around 25 per cent to 50pc above the normal hourly payments in most European countries. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, this trend has never been followed in either sector public or private.

A lump sum meagre amount is offered which is comparatively less than normal hourly payment. This increases frustration among the employees, resulting in more distress and dejection. The fear of sudden transfers also psychologically impacts the employees.

In 2016, according to World Health Organisation general releases, Pakistan witnessed 3.1 suicides per 100,000 people and stood at number 169 in the list of countries with comparative suicide rate.

Counselling employees, making leave procedures easy, internal breaks from work, protection from irrational wrath of bosses, increasing social bonds among staff and officers and increasing monetary benefits for employees may reasonably reduce work-related stress which will consequently reduce suicide rate.

Zaheer Sahito

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2020