New Delhi: The armed forces lost 597 personnel to suicide in the last five years while 1,349 officers quit the Army during the same period, Rajya Sabha was informed today.

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From 2009 to 2013, 597 armed forces personnel committed suicide--498 from the Army, 83 from the Air Force and 16 from the Navy, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in written reply. The highest number of suicides took place in the Army in 2010 when 116 troops committed suicide but the number came down to 86 in 2013, according to the figures given by the minister in his reply.

The Army, which is the largest of the three Services, also saw 1,349 officers quitting the force taking premature retirement in the last five years. The number of officers who had applied for premature retirement was 2,215 but only 1,349 such requests were granted by the force. The Defence Minister said the government has taken various measures to create appropriate environment for the defence personnel so that they can perform their duties without any mental stress.

"Some of these include improvement in living and working conditions through provision of better infrastructure and facilities, liberalised leave policy, establishing a grievance redressal mechanism and conduct of yoga as per unit routine," Jaitley said. Meanwhile, answering another query, Jaitley said the Air Force lost 19 fighter aircraft in the last three years, including 12 MiG-series fighter planes in which five service personnel were killed along with one civilian. The aircraft lost in the accidents were 8 MiG 21, 3 each of MiG 29 and Jaguar, two each of Mirage-2000 and Su-30MKI and one MiG-27M