In the midst of profound grief and utter shock, Deputy Commissioner Sohail Tipu left for a heavenly abode. Everybody has to meet his maker sooner or later, but certain departures take the wind out of the body— Sohail Tipu’s departure, by all means, was like that. It twists every heart that beats in the chamber that a man of such promising career and esteemed social status could choose to die in such a horrible way.
Apparently, it looks like an act of suicide; however, forensic reports will unfold the real accounts of the whole story in due course of time. But this is not an isolated incident; rather it is a continuation of a series of suicidal acts committed by Civil Servants. Almost a year and half ago, DPO Jehanzeb Kakar committed a similar kind of brutal act of suicide. These gruesome incidents raise very serious questions: What are the reasons behind the increasing trend of suicidal incidents among civil servants? What measures has the state taken to mitigate the circumstances that impel them to take such extreme steps? If we delve deep into the causes of these oft- repeated events, predominantly, depression is the main cause behind such acts; it’s a mental disorder, in which a person loses all the charms of life. He feels extreme hopelessness and pessimism, as if the problems of life which he is wrestling with will never go away. Thus, in its extreme form, suicide acts are natural corollary.
There are numerous contributing factors confronted by civil servants in the line of their duties; they are more susceptible to work related stresses. They are pressurized to comply with the orders against the consent of their conscience. In case of reluctance they are threatened with dire consequences. Those who scrupulously follow the dictates of legal laws and ethical precepts are more prone to such intimidating tactics. Any effort to stem the tide of moral degeneration of the society is meted out with extreme threats. Besides this, they are expected to undertake ambitious targets with scare resources and seemingly impossible timelines. Moreover, political interferences and illegal patronage of wrongdoings creates a strong sense of frustration. All these take a toll on your health. Though who opt for civil service are somewhat mindful of the fact that everything is not hunky dory, yet only fewer can fathom the kind of odds that are lying ahead in the quagmire of the society. In order to reduce work related stress, state should invest more in civil servants, pay them in accordance with market trends so that they can meet their ends easily and give them adequate protection, along with sufficient administrative and operational autonomy, so that they can serve the people in a conducive environment.
Sedentary lifestyle of the civil servants takes a heavy toll on their health. Lake of exercise augments stress and leads to clinical depression if it continues in an unabated manner. Even in force-related organizations like police, there are hardly any physical standards that are accounted for after the completion of training. Those who do physical activities, they do it on their own accord. This lazy and lethargic lifestyle deteriorates health and has direct bearing on performance as well. Exercise is the civilized way to reduce stress and to channel your latent energies in a positive way. These grievous incidents give a clarion call; you are productive as long as you are physically fit and mentally capable of. In this regard, one should spare at least an hour from his busy routine for his physical well-being.
A nagging guilt, which incessantly reminds of a previous wrong doing that now cannot be corrected, is also a leading cause of depression. To err is human, there are mistakes which are irrevocable and unforgivable and even at times, time cannot heal the wounds and sufferings attached to that particular incident. But those who take a prospective view of life would conquer such defeatism and will get a second chance to make up the loss. Therefore, anybody who harbors and fights with such thoughts should get proper psychiatric counseling so as to reclaim his sense of self composure and personal dignity, so as to view life from a border prospective, with cosmopolitan prism.
Suffocating social circles, instead of giving relief from the tedious routines of life, adds more frustration and evokes resentment. Those who are surrounded by people of myopic thinking, tunnel vision and consumed by trivialities are more likely to get adversely affected by it. On the contrary, we should choose to spend our leisure time with those who have animated breath of life, positive thinking and impersonal interests. A civil servant has to rub shoulders with a myriad of people from all walks of life with various perspectives on daily basis. Therefore, personal space should be allotted to those who are known for qualified traits.
Introspection, which enables us to evaluate ourselves, is virtually absent in our mundane routine. Life is fleeting so fast that we can hardly find time to adjust the sails of life’s ship properly. This machine like treatment with life evades us to understand the blessings and preciousness of life. Instead of being swayed away by the happenings of life, we need to understand its purpose, beauty and utility, and resort to spiritual solace in the face of hardships that we fail to confront.
Excessive medication for mental peace, specially the use of anti-depressant pills eventually makes the case for clinical depression. Relaxants and sleep inducing pills make the body addicted to it and the amount of dosage increases with the passage of time. Therefore, such over reliance on pills is counterproductive in the long run.
The symptoms of potential depression are often ignored owing to social stigma, which aggravates the disease to severe levels. These symptoms include; insomnia, poor concentration, extreme low self-esteem, social withdrawal, loss of appetite and generally preoccupied behavior. A person diagnosed with such symptoms must undergo complete physical and psychological treatment.
Depression arises when one fails to cope up with inner battles like bereavement, grief sickened tragedies of the past, unfulfilled desires, vaulting ambitions and heightened expectations. This feeling of surrender results in unworthiness for life. In short, life has never been fulfilling for anybody, it will never be. Contentment is the best reward that one can earn; the whole world was small for Alexander the Great, but even a tube was large for Diogenes.
n The writer is an officer of Police Service of Pakistan.