Arquivo da tag: Suicídio

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance? (Science Daily)

Date: October 23, 2014

Source: ResearchSEA

Summary: On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, the number of patients experiencing stress has also increased since the disaster. What’s more, many of the survivors are now jobless and therefore facing an uncertain future.


On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, the number of patients experiencing stress has also increased since the disaster. What’s more, many of the survivors are now jobless and therefore facing an uncertain future.

This is not the first time that nuclear power has victimized the Japanese people. In 1945, atomic bombs exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, creating massive fears about nuclear power in the Japanese population. It took 20 years for the public to erase the trauma of these events. It was then — in the mid 1960s(?) — that the Fukushima Daiichii Nuclear Power Plant was built.

According to Professor Tetsuo Sawada, Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactors at Tokyo University, it took a lot of effort to assure people that nuclear power was safe and beneficial. The first step was a legal step: In 1955, the Japanese government passed a law decreeing that nuclear power could only be used for peaceful purposes.

“But that law was not enough to assure people to accept the establishment of nuclear power,” said Prof. Sawada.

He explained that the economy plays an important role in public acceptance of nuclear power. Through the establishment of nuclear power plants, more jobs were created, which boosted the economy of the Fukushima region at that time.

“Before the Fukushima disaster, we could find many pro-nuclear people in the area of nuclear power plants since it gave them money,” said Prof. Sawada.

Now, more than forty years have passed and the public’s former confidence has evolved into feelings of fear about nuclear power and distrust toward the government.

According to a study conducted by Noriko Iwai from the Japanese General Social Survey Research Center, the Fukushima nuclear accident has heightened people’s perception of disaster risks, fears of nuclear accident, and recognition of pollution, and has changed public opinion on nuclear energy policy.

“Distance from nuclear plants and the perception of earthquake risk interactively correlate with opinions on nuclear issues: among people whose evaluation of earthquake risk is low, those who live nearer to the plants are more likely to object to the abolishment of nuclear plants,” said Iwai.

This finding is in line with the perception of Sokyu Genyu, a chief priest in Fukujuji temple, Miharu Town, Fukushima Prefecture. As a member of the Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, he argued that both the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants should be shut down in response to the objection of 80% of Fukushima residents.

However, the Japanese government, local scientists and international authorities have announced that Fukushima is safe. Radiation levels are below 1mSv/y, a number that, according to them, we should not be worried about. But the public do not believe in numbers.

But Genyu was not saying that these numbers are scientifically false. Rather, he argues that the problem lies more in the realm of social psychology. Despite the announcement about low-radiation levels, the Japanese people are still afraid of radiation.

“It is reasonable for local residents in Fukushima to speak out very emotionally. Within three months of the disaster, six people had committed sucide. They were homeless and jobless, ” said Genyu.

It is heart-breaking to know that victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident died not because of radiation, but instead because of depression. Besides the increasing number of suicides, the number ofpatients suffering from cerebrovascular disease (strokes)has also risen. In Minami-Soma Hospital, the population of stroke patients increased by more than 100% after the disaster.

Local doctors and scientists are now actively educating students in Fukushima, convincing them that the radiation will not affect their health.

Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura, a practicing doctor at Minami-Soma Hospital, has been informing students that Fukushima is safe. But sadly, their responses are mostly negative and full of apathy.

“I think the Fukushima disaster is not about nuclear radiation but is rather a matter of public trust in the technology ,” said Dr. Tsubokura.

Dr. Tsubokura has given dosimeters, a device used to measure radiation, to children living in Minami-Soma city. But apparently, this was not enough to eliminate people’s fears.

In 2012, Professor Ryogo Hayano, a physicist from the University of Tokyo, joined Dr. Tsubokura in Minami-Soma Hospital and invented BABYSCAN technology, a whole-body scanning to measure radiation in small children as well as to allay the fears of Fukushima parents.

“BABYSCAN is unnecessary but necessary. It is unnecessary because we know that the radiation is low. But it is necessary to assure parents that their children are going to be okay,” said Prof. Hayano.

After witnessing the fears of the Fukushima people, Prof. Hayano thinks that nuclear power is no longer appropriate for Japan. He believes that the government should shut down nuclear power plants.

“As a scientist, I know that nuclear power is safe and cheap. But looking at the public’s fear in Fukushima, I think it should be phased out,” said Prof. Hayano.

But, does the government care about the public when it comes to politics?

It has only been three years since the disaster and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been keen to revive the country’s nuclear power plants. The operations of more than 50 nuclear power plants in Japan have been suspended because of the Daiichi power plant meltdown.

Last month, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the reopening of a power plant in Sendai for 2015.

Anúncios

Índice de suicídios entre indígenas no MS é o maior em 28 anos (Combate Racismo Ambiental)

Por , 23/05/2014 14:06

Por Carolina Fasolo, de Brasília (DF), no Cimi

No dia 3 de abril, quando amanheceu em uma aldeia Guarani-Kaiowá, localizada no sul do estado de Mato Grosso do Sul, a mãe de três filhos abriu a porta de casa e paralisou ao ver o corpo frágil de sua menina mais nova suspenso pelo lençol, amarrado à árvore por um nó que parecia firme. No dia anterior, a garota havia completado 13 anos.

“A mãe disse que ela chegou da escola muito triste e reclamando de dores na cabeça”, conta Otoniel, liderança Guarani-Kaiowá. “Depois que todos foram dormir ela amarrou o lençol na árvore e se matou. Um primo dela de 12 anos tinha se enforcado uma semana antes. E uns dias depois que ela morreu outro adolescente, de 16 anos, também se suicidou na mesma aldeia. Fui até lá para saber o que estava acontecendo”.

Os três enforcamentos em menos de duas semanas fazem parte de uma estatística que no ano de 2013 ganhou contornos históricos. Foram contabilizados 73 casos de suicídios entre os indígenas de Mato Grosso do Sul. De acordo com registros do Conselho Indigenista Missionário (Cimi), é o maior número em 28 anos. Os dados, apurados pelo Distrito Sanitário Especial Indígena (DSEI/MS), constam no Relatório de Violência Contra os Povos Indígenas no Brasil, a ser divulgado pelo Cimi em junho.

Dos 73 indígenas mortos, 72 eram do povo Guarani-Kaiowá, a maioria com idade entre 15 e 30 anos. Otoniel acredita que o motivo de tantos jovens cometerem suicídio é a falta de perspectiva. “Não têm futuro, não têm respeito, não têm trabalho e nem terra pra plantar e viver. Escolhem morrer porque na verdade já estão mortos por dentro”.

O procurador da República Marco Antônio Delfino de Almeida, do Ministério Público Federal (MPF) em Dourados (MS), explica que as oportunidades de trabalho para os indígenas são praticamente restritas a atividades subalternas degradantes, como o corte da cana-de-açúcar. “Temos escolas indígenas, mas o modelo educacional não foi construído para a comunidade, existe apenas uma ‘casca indígena’, que não contempla a inserção do jovem no processo produtivo”, completa. 

“A discriminação e o ódio étnico, condutas incentivadas inclusive pelos meios de comunicação, acentuam sobremaneira o problema dos suicídios. Os indígenas são pintados como entraves, empecilhos, obstáculos ao desenvolvimento. É como se a mídia passasse a mensagem ‘Se você quer ficar bem, tire o índio do seu caminho’, ressalta o procurador.

13 anos, 684 suicídios

No período de 1986 a 1997, foram registradas 244 mortes por suicídio entre os Guarani-Kaiowá de MS, número que praticamente triplicou na última década. De 2000 a 2013 foram 684 casos.

“As atuais condições de vida desses indígenas, que desembocam em estatísticas assombrosas de violência, têm origem num processo histórico”, explica Marco Antonio Delfino. “O que aconteceu foi uma transferência brutal, por parte da União, de territórios indígenas para não índios”.

A transferência se deu, principalmente, pelo então Serviço de Proteção ao Índio (SPI) que demarcou, entre 1915 e 1928, oito pequenas reservas no sul do estado para onde diferentes povos indígenas foram obrigados a migrar. “As reservas demarcadas serviam como um depósito gigantesco de mão de obra a ser utilizada conforme os interesses econômicos. Todo o processo de confinamento indígena teve como finalidade sua utilização como mão de obra para os projetos agrícolas implantados no país, desde a cultura da erva-mate até recentemente, com a cana-de-açúcar”, completa o procurador.

O confinamento compulsório, com a sobreposição de aldeias distintas e de dinâmicas político-religiosas peculiares, acirrou o conflito dentro das reservas, alterando profundamente as formas de organização social, econômica e cultural dos indígenas, o que resultou em índices alarmantes de superpopulação, miséria e violência nestes espaços.

Definida pela vice-procuradora-geral da República, Deborah Duprat, como “a maior tragédia conhecida na questão indígena em todo o mundo”, a Reserva Indígena de Dourados é um dos exemplos mais contundentes desse processo histórico. Encravada no perímetro urbano do município, na Reserva vivem hoje mais de 13 mil indígenas em 3,6 hectares de terra. É a maior densidade populacional entre todas as comunidades tradicionais do país, e onde aconteceram 18 dos 73 casos de suicídio no estado em 2013.

“Hoje enfrentamos uma carência extremamente aguda de políticas públicas. Desde 2009 existem discussões para implantar um Centro de Atenção Psicossocial Indígena em Durados mas, por enquanto, não foi adotada nenhuma medida concreta para sua construção”, diz Marco Antonio Delfino. “A impressão que se tem é que as pessoas perderam o controle sobre o monstro que criaram, que são essas reservas. Então, fica nesse jogo de empurra-empurra, sempre com soluções paliativas. Precisamos reconhecer e reparar os erros cometidos para que existam soluções efetivas. O primeiro passo é demarcar os territórios usurpados dos indígenas”, conclui o procurador.

Suicide Risk Linked to Rates of Gun Ownership, Political Conservatism (Science Daily)

Apr. 4, 2013 — Residents of states with the highest rates of gun ownership and political conservatism are at greater risk of suicide than those in states with less gun ownership and less politically conservative leanings, according to a study by University of California, Riverside sociology professor Augustine J. Kposowa.

UCR study links risk of suicide with rate of gun ownership and political conservatism at the state level. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California, Riverside)

The study, “Association of suicide rates, gun ownership, conservatism and individual suicide risk,” was published online in the journal Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology in February.

Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death for all ages in the United States in 2007, the most recent year for which complete mortality data was available at the time of the study. It was the seventh leading cause of death for males and the 15th leading cause of death for females. Firearms are the most commonly used method of suicide by males and poisoning the most common among females.

Kposowa, who has studied suicide and its causes for two decades, analyzed mortality data from the U.S. Multiple Cause of Death Files for 2000 through 2004 and combined individual-level data with state-level information. Firearm ownership, conservatism (measured by percentage voting for former President George W. Bush in the 2000 election), suicide rate, church adherence, and the immigration rate were measured at the state level. He analyzed data relating to 131,636 individual suicides, which were then compared to deaths from natural causes (excluding homicides and accidents).

“Many studies show that of all suicide methods, firearms have the highest case fatality, implying that an individual who selects this technique has a very low chance of survival,” Kposowa said. Guns are simply the most efficient method of suicide, he added.

With few exceptions, states with the highest rates of gun ownership — for example, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alabama, and West Virginia — also tended to have the highest suicide rates. These states were also carried overwhelmingly by George Bush in the 2000 presidential election.

The study also found that:

  • The odds of committing suicide were 2.9 times higher among men than women
  • Non-Hispanic whites were nearly four times as likely to kill themselves as Non-Hispanic African Americans
  • The odds of suicide among Hispanics were 2.3 times higher than the odds among Non-Hispanic African Americans
  • Divorced and separated individuals were 38 percent more likely to kill themselves than those who were married
  • A higher percentage of church-goers at the state level reduced individual suicide risk.

“Church adherence may promote church attendance, which exposes an individual to religious beliefs, for example, about an afterlife. Suicide is proscribed in the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” Kposowa noted in explaining the finding that church membership at the state level reduces individual risk of suicide. “In states with a higher percentage of the population that belong to a church, it is plausible that religious views and doctrine about suicide are well-known through sacred texts, theology or sermons, and adherents may be less likely to commit suicide.”

Kposowa is the first to use a nationally representative sample to examine the effect of firearm availability on suicide odds. Previous studies that associated firearm availability to suicide were limited to one or two counties. His study also demonstrates that individual behavior is influenced not only by personal characteristics, but by social structural or contextual attributes. That is, what happens at the state level can influence the personal actions of those living within that state.

The sociologist said that although policies aimed at seriously regulating firearm ownership would reduce individual suicides, such policies are likely to fail not because they do not work, but because many Americans remain opposed to meaningful gun control, arguing that they have a constitutional right to bear arms.

“Even modest efforts to reform gun laws are typically met with vehement opposition. There are also millions of Americans who continue to believe that keeping a gun at home protects them against intruders, even though research shows that when a gun is used in the home, it is often against household members in the commission of homicides or suicides,” Kposowa said.

“Adding to the widespread misinformation about guns is that powerful pro-gun lobby groups, especially the National Rifle Association, seem to have a stranglehold on legislators and U.S. policy, and a politician who calls for gun control may be targeted for removal from office in a future election by a gun lobby,” he added.

Although total suicide rates in the U.S. are not much higher than in other Western countries, without changes in gun-ownership policies “the United States is poised to remain a very armed and potentially dangerous nation for its inhabitants for years to come.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Augustine J. Kposowa. Association of suicide rates, gun ownership, conservatism and individual suicide risk.Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 2013; DOI:10.1007/s00127-013-0664-4

A burocracia e as violências invisíveis (Canal Ibase)

Renzo Taddei – Colunista do Canal Ibase

2 de agosto de 2012

matéria de capa da revista Time da semana passada chama a atenção para dados impressionantes sobre o suicídio entre militares norte-americanos. Desde 2004, o número de militares americanos que se suicidaram é maior do que os que foram mortos em combate no Afeganistão. Em média, um soldado americano na ativa se suicida por dia. Dentre os veteranos, um suicídio ocorre a cada 80 minutos. Entre 2004 e 2008, a taxa de suicídio entre militares cresceu 80%; só em 2012, esse crescimento já é de 18%. O suicídio ultrapassou os acidentes automobilísticos como primeira causa de morte de militares fora de situação de combate.

Foto: Matthew C. Moeller (Flickr)

O exército americano naturalmente busca, preocupado, identificar as causas do problema – até o momento sem sucesso. O problema está longe de ser óbvio, no entanto. Um terço dos suicidas nunca foi ao Afeganistão ou ao Iraque. 43% só foram convocados uma vez. Apenas 8,5% dos suicidas foram convocados três vezes ou mais. E, em sua maioria, são casados. Ou seja, nem todos os suicídios estão relacionados com traumas de campos de batalha.

Como é de se esperar, a burocracia militar busca um diagnóstico burocrático, para que a solução seja burocrática – de modo que não seja necessário cavar muito fundo na questão. O exército americano não tem psiquiatras e profissionais de serviço social suficientes. Muitos soldados se suicidam na longa espera por uma consulta psiquiátrica; outros, após terem sido receitados soníferos e oficialmente diagnosticados como “não sendo um perigo para si ou para os demais”. A cultura militar estigmatiza demonstrações de fraqueza, de modo que muitos evitam procurar ajuda a tempo. Viúvas acusam o exército de negligência; oficiais militares dizem que os soldados se suicidam devido a problemas conjugais.

Enquanto eu refletia sobre o assunto, chegou até mim a indicação de um livro chamadoDays of Destruction, Days of Revolt, do jornalista americano Chris Edges. O livro descreve a situação de algumas das cidades mais pobres dos Estados Unidos e chega à conclusão de que a pobreza de tais cidades não tem ligação com a ideia de subdesenvolvimento, mas sim ao que se poderia chamar de contra-desenvolvimento: são cidades que foram destruídas pela exploração capitalista.

Uma dessas cidades, Camden, no estado de Nova Jersey, é velha conhecida: durante meu doutorado nos Estados Unidos, trabalhei como fotógrafo para complementar minha renda, e estive em Camden várias vezes. Sempre me impressionaram os sinais explícitos de decadência do lugar: gente vivendo em prédios em ruínas; equipamentos públicos em decomposição; tráfico de droga à luz do dia. Agora descubro que se trata nada menos da cidade com menor renda per capita do país.

Chris Edges chama tais cidades de zonas de sacrifício do capitalismo. Ou seja, para que a exploração capitalista possa ocorrer sem impedimentos, o capital se move de um lugar para outro assim que os recursos ou as oportunidades se esgotam, deixando para trás cidades fantasmas, desemprego e depressão. A lógica desse padrão de exploração é bem conhecida desde Marx, pelo menos. O que Chris Edges faz é, com a ajuda do artista gráfico e também jornalista Joe Sacco, dar nova visibilidade a um problema que a burocracia oficial e a mídia fazem questão de não enxergar.

Que relação há entre os suicídios militares e a pobreza urbana dos Estados Unidos? Na verdade, me dei conta que há uma analogia fundamental entre os dois casos: em ambos há a conjugação do fato de que para que o sistema funcione – e estamos falando de sistemas diferentes para cada caso – alguém tem que ser sacrificado; e esse sacrifício e suas vítimas sacrificiais devem permanecer invisíveis para a maioria da população. O esforço dos Estados Unidos para manter sua hegemonia militar produz de forma sistemática a morte de uma imensa quantidade de gente, dentre americanos e seus supostos inimigos. E, para que a lucratividade se mantenha alta, florestas, cidades e empregos são destruídos, também de forma sistemática. Uma das expressões usadas nas ciências sociais para descrever esse estado de coisas é violência estrutural.

A invisibilidade dessas coisas é imprescindível – só assim pessoas bem intencionadas e de boa fé podem participar do sistema perverso, sem enxergar sua perversidade. Por isso, por exemplo, o governo Bush (pai) articulou com a imprensa americana um pacto para que não fossem publicadas fotos de caixões de soldados mortos em combate na primeira Guerra do Golfo. O pacto esteve em vigor por quase vinte anos, até que foidesfeito por Obama em 2009.

Mas a forma mais comum, e eficaz, de produzir as formas de violência estrutural que reproduzem desigualdades de forma invisível é a burocracia. E isso se dá, como nos lembra David Graeber, em razão do fato de que é função da burocracia ignorar as minúcias da vida cotidiana e reduzir tudo a fórmulas mecânicas e estatísticas. Isso nos permite focar nossas energias em um número menor de variáveis, e assim realizar coisas grandiosas e incríveis – para o bem e para o mal. O papel que a burocracia tem na produção da invisibilidade que mantém violências estruturais em funcionamento pode ser exemplificado através do uso de estatísticas em políticas públicas, por exemplo. Um dos programas oficiais de apoio à população rural do Nordeste mais importantes da atualidade, o Garantia Safra – em que pequenos agricultores adquirem um seguro e são indenizados em caso de perda de safra -, sistematicamente exclui agricultores em função de miopia burocrática. Para que os agricultores de um município recebam a indenização, as regras do programa exigem que haja 50% de perda da safra de todo o município. No entanto, basta ver a dimensão e os contornos dos municípios brasileiros para rapidamente concluir que não há relação necessária entre os limites municipais e os fenômenos meteorológicos. Há municípios que, de tão extensos, apresentam variações climáticas dramáticas dentro de suas fronteiras. Nesses casos, é comum que muitos agricultores com grandes perdas não recebam qualquer indenização, se outras regiões do município tiverem perdas menores. Por que é que o município tem que ser tomado como unidade de referência nesse caso? Porque há um aparato burocrático municipal para gerir o programa, e não há níveis burocráticos oficiais em escala menor. Ou seja, o sistema é burro mesmo que ninguém o seja, e quem sofre as consequências são os agricultores.

De forma correlata, índices nacionais ou estaduais de desemprego, crescimento do PIB e do PIB per capita, são unidades de referência centrais das políticas públicas atuais, ainda que sejam médias que não levem em consideração as situações extremas onde efetivamente existe vulnerabilidade socioeconômica. É como se o ditado que diz que “a corda sempre se parte no lado mais fraco” fosse sistematicamente ignorado. A vulnerabilidade de qualquer sistema – uma máquina, por exemplo – é definida pelo seu componente mais frágil. Qualquer engenheiro sabe disso; na verdade, a ideia é tão óbvia que qualquer um sabe disso. É ai que entra a burocracia: . Nesse contexto, não importa muito o que as pessoas sabem ou não: elas não serão capazes de identificar como a burocracia produz inconsistências e violência estrutural, a menos que sejam diretamente afetadas. Dessa forma, cidades como Camden ficam sistematicamente fora do radar, camufladas por estatísticas de âmbito estadual ou nacional.

Isso tudo está relacionado a outra notícia veiculada nos jornais na semana passada: a posição do Brasil nos debates na ONU sobre a regulação do comércio mundial de armas. Apesar das evidências de que as armas fabricadas no Brasil foram e continuam sendo vendidas a governos com histórico de violação dos direitos humanos, o Brasil se colocou frontalmente contra a regulação e criação de mecanismos que deem transparência a esse mercado. A justificativa, como não poderia deixar de ser, é burocrática: a disseminação de informações sobre capacidade bélica “poderia expor os recursos e a capacidade dos países […] de sustentar um conflito prolongado”. Colocar isso como argumento que tem precedência sobre a necessidade de proteger os direitos humanos é um escândalo. Por trás dessa desculpa esfarrapada, está a intenção de proteger a lucrativa indústria bélica brasileira. O que faz a história toda mais indigesta é o fato da Dilma ter sido vítima de tortura, durante o período em que o Brasil era dirigido pela burocracia militar. Como pode a mesma presidente que criou aComissão da Verdade ser conivente com uma indústria e um mercado manchados de sangue?

Esse episódio mostra que, em termos éticos, há menos diferença entre Estados Unidos e Brasil do que os brasileiros gostam de acreditar. Para proteger o capitalismo – já não mais num campo de luta ideológica, como à época da guerra fria, mas na forma de interesses privados reais e específicos de empresas norte-americanas -, os Estados Unidos passam a ser um perigo não apenas para nações vulneráveis não-alinhadas, mas a si mesmo, como revela a epidemia de suicídios entre militares. Da mesma forma, e pelas mesmas razões – ou seja, na caminhada rumo à sua consolidação como poder imperialista – o Brasil se preocupa com seus mortos políticos, e estrategicamente finge não ver que, para a engorda do seu PIB e para a prosperidade de sua indústria bélica, uma imensa quantidade de vidas – na África, no Oriente Média, no sul do Pará e nos morros cariocas –  é sacrificada.

Renzo Taddei é professor da Escola de Comunicação da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. É doutor em antropologia pela Universidade de Columbia, em Nova York. Dedica-se aos estudos sociais da ciência e tecnologia.

The War on Suicide? (Time)

Monday, July 23, 2012

By NANCY GIBBS; MARK THOMPSON

Leslie McCaddon sensed that the enemy had returned when she overheard her husband on the phone with their 8-year-old daughter. “Do me a favor,” he told the little girl. “Give your mommy a hug and tell her that I love her.”

She knew for certain when she got his message a few minutes later. “This is the hardest e-mail I’ve ever written,” Dr. Michael McCaddon wrote. “Please always tell my children how much I love them, and most importantly, never, ever let them find out how I died … I love you. Mike”

She grabbed a phone, sounded every alarm, but by the time his co-workers found his body hanging in the hospital call room, it was too late.

Leslie knew her husband, an Army doctor, had battled depression for years. For Rebecca Morrison, the news came more suddenly. The wife of an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot, she was just beginning to reckon with her husband Ian’s stress and strain. Rebecca urged Ian to see the flight surgeon, call the Pentagon’s crisis hotline. He did–and waited on the line for more than 45 minutes. His final text to his wife: “STILL on hold.” Rebecca found him that night in their bedroom. He had shot himself in the neck.

Grand Praire, TX. Rebecca Morrison with some of her husband Ian’s belongings in her parents homes. Ian, an AH-64 Apache Helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army committed suicide on March 21, 2012. Ian chose ‘Ike’ for Rebecca. Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for TIME.

Both Army captains died on March 21, a continent apart. The next day, and the next day, and the next, more soldiers would die by their own hand, one every day on average, about as many as are dying on the battlefield. These are active-duty personnel, still under the military’s control and protection. Among all veterans, a suicide occurs every 80 minutes, round the clock.

Have suicides spiked because of the strain of fighting two wars? Morrison flew 70 missions in Iraq over nine months but never engaged the enemy directly. McCaddon was an ob-gyn resident at an Army hospital in Hawaii who had never been to Iraq or Afghanistan. Do the pride and protocols of a warrior culture keep service members from seeking therapy? In the three days before he died, Morrison went looking for help six times, all in vain. When Leslie McCaddon alerted commanders about her husband’s anguish, it was dismissed as the result of a lovers’ quarrel; she, not the Army, was the problem.

This is the ultimate asymmetrical war, and the Pentagon is losing. “This issue–suicides–is perhaps the most frustrating challenge that I’ve come across since becoming Secretary of Defense,” Leon Panetta said June 22. The U.S. military seldom meets an enemy it cannot target, cannot crush, cannot put a fence around or drive a tank across. But it has not been able to defeat or contain the epidemic of suicides among its troops, even as the wars wind down and the evidence mounts that the problem has become dire. While veterans account for about 10% of all U.S. adults, they account for 20% of U.S. suicides. Well trained, highly disciplined, bonded to their comrades, soldiers used to be less likely than civilians to kill themselves–but not anymore.

More U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the war in Afghanistan began than have died fighting there. The rate jumped 80% from 2004 to 2008, and while it leveled off in 2010 and 2011, it has soared 18% this year. Suicide has passed road accidents as the leading noncombat cause of death among U.S. troops. While it’s hard to come by historical data on military suicides–the Army has been keeping suicide statistics only since the early 1980s–there’s no denying that the current numbers constitute a crisis.

The specific triggers for suicide are unique to each service member. The stresses layered on by war–the frequent deployments, the often brutal choices, the loss of comrades, the family separation–play a role. So do battle injuries, especially traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And the constant presence of pain and death can lessen one’s fear of them.

But combat trauma alone can’t account for the trend. Nearly a third of the suicides from 2005 to 2010 were among troops who had never deployed; 43% had deployed only once. Only 8.5% had deployed three or four times. Enlisted service members are more likely to kill themselves than officers, and 18-to-24-year-olds more likely than older troops. Two-thirds do it by gunshot; 1 in 5 hangs himself. And it’s almost always him: nearly 95% of cases are male. A majority are married.

No program, outreach or initiative has worked against the surge in Army suicides, and no one knows why nothing works. The Pentagon allocates about $2 billion–nearly 4% of its $53 billion annual medical bill–to mental health. That simply isn’t enough money, says Peter Chiarelli, who recently retired as the Army’s second in command. And those who seek help are often treated too briefly.

Army officials declined to discuss specific cases. But Kim Ruocco directs suicideprevention programs at the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS. She knows what Leslie McCaddon and Rebecca Morrison have endured; her husband, Marine Major John Ruocco, an AH-1 Cobra helicopter-gunship pilot, hanged himself in 2005. These were highly valued, well-educated officers with families, with futures, with few visible wounds or scars; whatever one imagines might be driving the military suicide rate, it defies easy explanation. “I was with them within hours of the deaths,” Ruocco says of the two new Army widows. “I experienced it through their eyes.” Their stories, she says, are true. And they are telling them now, they say, because someone has to start asking the right questions.

The Bomb Grunt

Michael McCaddon was an Army brat born into a uniquely edgy corner of the service: his father served in an ordnance-disposal unit, and after his parents divorced, his mother married another bomb-squad member. McCaddon entered the family business, enlisting at 17. “When I joined the Army I was 5’10” and weighed 129 lbs,” he blogged years later. “I had a great body … for a girl.” But basic training made him stronger and tougher; he pushed to get the top scores on physical-fitness tests; he took up skydiving, snorkeling, hiking. If you plan to specialize in a field in which a single mistake can cost you and your comrades their lives, it helps to have high standards. “Ever since I was new to the Army, I made it my personal goal to do as well as I can,” he recalled. “I thought of it as kind of a representation of my being, my honor, who I was.”

The Army trained him to take apart bombs. He and his team were among the first on the scene of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, combing the ruins for any other devices, and he traveled occasionally to help the Secret Service protect then First Lady Hillary Clinton. He met Leslie in 1994 during a break in her college psychology studies. They started dating, sometimes across continents–he did two tours in Bosnia. During a Stateside break in January 2001, he married Leslie in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. They had three children in four years, and McCaddon, by then an active-duty officer, moved with his family to Vilseck, Germany, where he helped run an Army dental office.

He was still ambitious–two of Leslie’s pregnancies had been difficult, so he decided to apply to the military’s medical school and specialize in obstetrics. But then, while he was back in Washington for his interview, came a living nightmare: his oldest son, who was 3, was diagnosed with leukemia. Just before entering med school, McCaddon prepared for his son’s chemotherapy by shaving his head in solidarity so the little boy wouldn’t feel so strange. McCaddon may not have been a warrior, but he was a fighter. “I became known as a hard-charger,” he wrote. “I was given difficult tasks, and moved through the ranks quickly.” He pushed people who didn’t give 100%; he pushed himself.

The Apache Pilot

Ian Morrison was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, son of a Marine. An honor student at Thomas McKean High School in Wilmington, Del., he sang in the chorus, ran cross-country and was a co-captain of the swimming team before heading to West Point. He had a wicked sense of humor and a sweet soul; he met Rebecca on a Christian singles website in 2006 and spent three months charming her over the phone. One night he gave her his credit-card information. “Buy me a ticket, because I’m going to come see you,” he told her before flying to Houston. “The minute I picked him up,” she recalls, “we later said we both knew it was the real deal.” He proposed at West Point when she flew in for his graduation.

Morrison spent the next two years at Fort Rucker in Alabama, learning to fly the two-seat, 165-m.p.h. Apache helicopter, the Army’s most lethal aircraft. He and his roommate, fellow West Pointer Sean McBride, divided their time among training, Walmart, church, Seinfeld and video games, fueled by macaroni and cheese with chopped-up hot dogs. Morrison and Rebecca were married two days after Christmas 2008 near Dallas. The Army assigned him to an aviation unit at Fort Hood, so they bought a three-bedroom house on an acre of land just outside the town of Copperas Cove, Texas. They supported six African children through World Vision and were planning to have some kids of their own. “We had named our kids,” Rebecca says.

Morrison was surprised when the Army ordered him to Iraq on short notice late in 2010. Like all young Army officers, he saluted and began packing.

Triggers and Traps

One theory of suicide holds that people who feel useful, who feel as if they belong and serve a larger cause, are less likely to kill themselves. That would explain why active-duty troops historically had lower suicide rates than civilians. But now experts who study the patterns wonder whether prolonged service during wartime may weaken that protective function.

Service members who have bonded with their units, sharing important duties, can have trouble once they are at a post back home, away from the routines and rituals that arise in a close-knit company. The isolation often increases once troops leave active duty or National Guardsmen and reservists return to their parallel lives. The military frequently cites relationship issues as a predecessor to suicides; that irritates survivors to no end. “I’m not as quick to blame the Army as the Army is to blame me,” Leslie McCaddon says. “The message I get from the Army is that our marital problems caused Mike to kill himself. But they never ask why there were marriage problems to begin with.”

As McCaddon made his way through med school in Maryland, he encountered ghosts from his past. He was reaching the age at which his biological father had died by suicide, which statistically increased his own risk. But he wasn’t scared by it, Leslie says; he told associates about it. What did bother him was that he was gaining weight, the physical-training tests were getting harder for him, and the course work was challenging to juggle with a young family. He hid the strain, “but inside it is killing me,” he blogged. He called Leslie a hero “for not kicking me out of the house on the several times I’ve given her reason.” And he told her he sometimes thought of suicide.

“But he would tell everyone else that he was fine,” Leslie says. “He was afraid they’d kick him out of medical school if he was really honest about how depressed he was.” McCaddon sought counseling from a retired Army psychiatrist and seemed to be turning a corner in May 2010, when he graduated and got his first choice for a residency, at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu.

“He loved being a soldier,” Leslie said, “and he was going to do everything he could to protect that relationship.”

Leslie had relationships to protect as well. He was increasingly hard on her at home; he was also hard on the kids and on himself. “He was always an amazing father–he loved his children–but he started lashing out at them,” Leslie recalls. “He wasn’t getting enough sleep, and he was under a lot of stress.” Leslie began exploring options but very, very carefully; she had a bomb-disposal problem as well. “When I was reaching out for help, people were saying, Be careful how you phrase this, because it could affect your husband’s career,” she says. “That was terrifying to me. It made me think that by advocating for him I’d be making things worse.”

The Pilot’s Pain

Captain Morrison headed to Iraq in early 2011. Once there, he and Rebecca Skyped nearly every day between his flight assignments. When he took R&R leave in early September, they visited family in Dallas, then San Antonio, and caught concerts by Def Leppard and Heart.

There were no signs of trouble. “He was so mentally stable–he worked out every day, we ate good food, and we always had good communication,” his wife says. “Most people would say he was kind of quiet, but with me he was loud and obnoxious and open.”

Morrison never engaged the enemy in direct combat; still, some 70 missions over Iraq took their toll. His base was routinely mortared. After one mission, he and several other pilots were walking back to their hangar when a rocket shot right past them and almost hit him; he and his comrades ran and dived into a bunker, he told Rebecca once he was safely home. He impressed his commander–“Excellent performance!” his superior raved in a formal review of the man his buddies called Captain Brad Pitt. “Unlimited potential … continue to place in position of greater responsibility.”

It was not the war that turned out to be hard; it was the peace. Morrison returned to Fort Hood late last year and spent his month off with Rebecca riding their horses, attending church and working out. He seemed unnerved by slack time at home. “He said it was really easy to fall into a routine in Iraq–they got up at the exact same time, they ate, they worked out, they flew forever and then they came back, and he’d talk to me, and then they did it all over again,” Rebecca says. “When he came back to Texas, it was really difficult for him to adjust.”

Morrison was due to be reassigned, so he and his wife needed to sell their house, but it just sat on the market. His anxiety grew; he was restless, unable to sleep, and they thought he might be suffering from PTSD. The couple agreed that he should see a doctor. Military wives, especially those studying mental health, have heard the stories, know the risks, learn the questions: Is their spouse drinking more, driving recklessly, withdrawing from friends, feeling trapped? Be direct, they are told. “I looked him right in the face and asked, ‘Do you feel like you want to hurt or kill yourself?'” Rebecca recalls. “He looked me right in the face and said, ‘Absolutely not–no way–I don’t feel like that at all. All I want to do is figure out how to stop this anxiety.'”

The Stigma

When troops return from deployment, they are required to do self-assessments of their experience: Did they see people killed during their tour? Did they feel they had been at risk of dying? Were they interested in getting counseling for stress or alcohol use or other issues? But a 2008 study found that when soldiers answer questions anonymously, they are two to four times as likely to report depression or suicidal thoughts. Independent investigations have turned up reports of soldiers being told by commanders to airbrush their answers or else risk their careers. A report by the Center for a New American Security cited commanders who refuse to grant a military burial after a suicide for fear that doing so would “endorse or glamorize” it.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and all the services have launched resiliency-training programs and emergency hotlines, offering slogans like “Never leave a Marine behind” and “Never let your buddy fight alone” that try to speak the language of the unit. Last year the Pentagon released a video game meant to allow soldiers to explore the causes and symptoms of PTSD from the privacy of their homes. “We want people to feel like they are encouraged to get help,” says Jackie Garrick, who runs the new Defense Suicide Prevention Office. “There are a myriad of ways you can access help and support if you need it.”

But faith in that commitment was shaken this year when Army Major General Dana Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, complained on his official blog that he was “personally fed up” with “absolutely selfish” troops who kill themselves, leaving him and others to “clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us,” he continued. He later said he wanted to “retract” what he called his “hurtful statement,” but he didn’t apologize for what he said. Many soldiers and family members believe Pittard’s attitude is salted throughout the U.S. military.

Just a Lovers’ Quarrel

In August 2010, Leslie went to McCaddon’s commanding officer at the hospital. She didn’t tell Michael. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” she says. She recalls sitting in the commander’s office, haltingly laying out her concerns–McCaddon’s history of depression, his struggle to meet his high standards while doing right by his family. She was hoping that maybe the commander would order him into counseling and defuse the stigma somehow: he’d just be following orders. She watched the officer, a female colonel, detonate before her eyes. “No one at the medical school told me he had a history of depression, of being suicidal,” Leslie recalls her shouting. “I have a right to know this. He’s one of my residents. Why didn’t anyone tell me?” The commander was furious–not at Leslie, exactly, but at finding herself not in command of the facts.

The colonel called several colleagues into the room and then summoned McCaddon as well. Leslie registered the shock and fear on his face when he saw his wife sitting with his bosses. “I was shaking,” she says. “I told him I continued to be concerned that his depression was affecting our family and that I was really concerned for his safety but also for the well-being of our children and myself.”

The commander encouraged McCaddon to get help but wouldn’t order him to do it. He left the room, livid, and Leslie burst into tears. “Honey, don’t worry,” Leslie remembers the commander saying. “My first marriage was a wreck too.”

Can’t you make him get some help? Leslie pleaded again, but the colonel pushed back. McCaddon was doing fine at work, with no signs of a problem. “‘Leslie, I know this is going to be hard to hear, but this just doesn’t sound like an Army issue to me,'” McCaddon’s wife recalls the colonel saying. “‘It sounds like a family issue to me.'” Leslie felt her blood run cold. “No one was going to believe me so long as things were going fine at work.”

McCaddon did try to see an Army psychiatrist, but a month or more could pass without his finding the time. “I’d say, ‘He’s in the Army,'” Leslie recalls telling the doctor, “‘and you make him do everything else, so you should be able to make him go to mental-health counseling.'” But McCaddon was not about to detour from rounds to lie on the couch. He barely ate while on his shift. “Everybody here is under stress,” he stormed at Leslie. “I can’t just walk out for an hour a week–I’m not going to leave them when we’re already short-staffed.”

The marriage was cracking. Back in Massachusetts, Leslie’s mother was not well. Leslie and the kids moved home so she could take care of her. She and Michael talked about divorce.

The Waiting Room

Early on Monday, March 19, Ian Morrison showed up at a Fort Hood health clinic, where he sat waiting in his uniform, with his aviation badge, for three hours. Finally someone saw him. “‘I’m sorry you had to wait all this time,'” Rebecca says he was told. “‘But we can’t see you. We can’t prescribe you anything.'” He had to see the doctor assigned to his unit. When Morrison arrived at the flight surgeon’s office, he told Rebecca, the doctor was upset that Morrison hadn’t shown up at the regular daily sick call a couple of hours earlier.

“He told me this guy was so dismissive and rude to him. ‘You need to follow procedure. You should have been here hours ago,'” Rebecca says. “Ian wanted to tell the doctor he was anxious, depressed and couldn’t sleep, but this guy shut him down.” Morrison acknowledged only his sleeplessness, leading the doctor to give him 10 sleeping pills with orders to return the next week. He’d be grounded for the time being.

But that didn’t seem to affect his mood. Morrison toasted his wife’s success on a big exam that day–she was close to earning her master’s in psychology–by cooking a steak dinner and drawing a bubble bath for her that night. “He was dancing around and playing music and celebrating for me,” she remembers. “He seemed really hopeful.” He took a pill before bed but told Rebecca in the morning that he hadn’t slept.

On Tuesday, March 20, Morrison tried to enroll in an Army sleep study but was told he couldn’t join for a month. “Well, I’ll just keep taking Ambien and then go see the flight surgeon,” he told the woman involved with the study. She asked if he felt like hurting himself. “No, ma’am, you don’t have to worry about me at all,” he said. “I would never do that.” That day, Morrison typed an entry in his journal: “These are the things I know that I can’t change: whether or not the house sells, the state of the economy, and the world … these are things that I know to be true: I’m going to be alive tomorrow, I will continue to breathe and get through this, and God is sovereign over my life.”

Rebecca awoke the next morning to find her husband doing yoga. “I’m self-medicating,” he told her. She knew what that meant. “You couldn’t sleep again, huh?” Rebecca asked.

“No,” Morrison said. “I’m going back to the doctor today.” Given the lack of success with the medication, she told him that was probably a good idea. She left the house, heading for the elementary school on post where she taught second grade.

A System Overwhelmed

The Army reported in January that there was no way to tell how well its suicide-prevention programs were working, but it estimated that without such interventions, the number of suicides could have been four times as high. Since 2009, the Pentagon’s ranks of mental-health professionals have grown by 35%, nearing 10,000. But there is a national shortage of such personnel, which means the Army is competing with the VA and other services–not to mention the civilian world–to hire the people it needs. The Army has only 80% of the psychiatrists and 88% of the social workers and behavioral-health nurses recommended by the VA. Frequent moves from post to post mean that soldiers change therapists often, if they can find one, and mental-health records are not always transferred.

Military mental-health professionals complain that the Army seemed to have put its suicide-prevention efforts on the back burner after Chiarelli, a suicide fighter, left the service in January. “My husband did not want to die,” Rebecca says. “Ian tried to get help–six times in all … Think about all the guys who don’t even try to get help because of the stigma. Ian was so past the stigma, he didn’t care. He just wanted to be healthy.”

The Breaking Point

On March 15, McCaddon gave a medical presentation that got rave reviews. Then he called Massachusetts to speak to his children and sent Leslie that last e-mail. He regretted his failures as a husband, as a father. Don’t tell the children how I died, he begged her. “Know that I love you and my biggest regret in life will always be failing to cherish that, and instead forsaking it.” Leslie read the e-mail in horror. “In the back of my mind, I’m saying to myself, He’s at work–he’s safe,” she recalls. “It never occurred to me that he would do what he did at work.” But she immediately dialed the hospital’s delivery center. She had just received a suicide note from her husband, she told the doctor who answered, and they needed to find him immediately. The hospital staff fanned out.

“They’ve sent people to the roof, the basement, to your house. We’re looking everywhere,” a midwife told Leslie in a call minutes later. As they talked, Leslie suddenly heard people screaming and crying in the background. Then she heard them call a Code Blue. They had found him hanging from a noose in a call room. It had been less than 30 minutes since McCaddon had sent his final e-mail to his wife. Among the voices Leslie thought she recognized was that of McCaddon’s commander, whose words came rushing back. “Does it seem like a family issue to her now?” Leslie remembers thinking. “Because it looks like it happened on her watch.”

It took 15 minutes for the first responders to bring back a heartbeat. By then he had been without oxygen for too long. Leslie flew to Hawaii, and Captain McCaddon was taken off life support late Tuesday, March 20. He was pronounced dead early the next day.

That same day, Wednesday, March 21, Morrison saw a different Army doctor, who in a single 20-minute session diagnosed him with clinical depression. He got prescriptions for an antidepressant and a med to treat anxiety but hadn’t taken either when he called his wife. Rebecca encouraged him to stop by the resiliency center on post to see if he might get some mental-health counseling there. Just before noon, Morrison texted Rebecca, saying he was “Hopeful :)” about it. She wanted to know what they told him. “Will have to come back,” he responded. “Wait is about 2 hrs.” He needed to get back to his office.

Rebecca was still concerned. At about 4 p.m., she urged her husband to call a military hotline that boasted, “Immediate help 24/7–contact a consultant now.” He promised he would. “I said, ‘Perfect. Call them, and I’ll talk to you later,'” Rebecca says. “He was like, ‘O.K., bye.'”

That was the last time she ever talked to him. Their final communication was one more text about 45 minutes later. “STILL on hold,” he wrote to her. Rebecca responded moments later: “Can’t say you’re not trying.”

Morrison called Rebecca at 7:04 p.m., according to her cell phone, but she was leading a group-therapy session and missed it. He didn’t leave a message.

Two and a half hours later, she returned home from her grad-school counseling class. She threw her books down when she entered the living room and called his name. No answer. She saw his boots by the door; the mail was there, so she knew he had to be home. “I walked into our bedroom, and he was lying on the floor with his head on a pillow, on my side of the bed.” He was still in his uniform.

Rebecca stammers, talking softly and slowly through her sobs. “He had shot himself in the neck,” she says. “There was no note or anything. He was fully dressed, and I ran over to him and checked his pulse … and he had no pulse. I just ran out of the house screaming, ‘Call 911!’ and ran to the neighbors.”

The Next Mission

At a suicide-prevention conference in June, Panetta laid down a charge: “We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure that the system itself is working to help soldiers. Not to hide this issue, not to make the wrong judgments about this issue, but to face facts and deal with the problems up front and make sure that we provide the right diagnosis and that we follow up on that kind of diagnosis.”

But what makes preventing suicide so confounding is that even therapy often fails. “Over 50% of the soldiers who committed suicide in the four years that I was vice [chief] had seen a behavioral-health specialist,” recalls Chiarelli. “It was a common thing to hear about someone who had committed suicide who went in to see a behavioral-health specialist and was dead within 24, 48 or 72 hours–and to hear he had a diagnosis that said, ‘This individual is no danger to himself or anyone else.’ That’s when I realized that something’s the matter.”

There’s the horrific human cost, and there is a literal cost as well. The educations of McCaddon and Morrison cost taxpayers a sum approaching $2 million. “If the Army can’t be reached through the emotional side of it–that I lost my husband–well, they lost a $400,000 West Point education and God knows how much in flight school,” Rebecca says. (The Army says Morrison’s pilot training cost $700,000.) Adds Leslie: “They’d invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into this asset. At the very least, why didn’t they protect their asset?”

Captain McCaddon was buried with full military honors on April 3 in Gloucester, Mass. A pair of officers traveled from Hawaii for the service and presented his family with the Army Commendation Medal “for his selfless and excellent service.” Leslie and their three children also received the U.S. flag that had been draped over his casket and three spent shells fired by the honor guard. They visited his grave on Father’s Day to leave flowers, and each child left a card. After two years of chemotherapy, their oldest child’s leukemia remains in remission.

Captain Morrison was buried in central Texas on March 31. The Army had awarded him several decorations, including the Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star. There were military honors graveside, and a bugler played taps. At his widow’s request, there was no rifle volley fired.