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Military suicides hit their highest level in 5 years

American soldier carrying their helmet
Photo: Michael Sugrue/Getty Images

The suicide rate in the U.S. military increased to its highest level in five years, according to a Pentagon report quoted by USA Today.

The big picture: Many of the troops who committed suicide were under 30, male and enlisted, per USA Today. The Marine Corps had the highest number of suicides.

By the numbers:

  • "The rate of suicide among active-duty troops was 24.8 per 100,000 people in 2018. In 2017, that figure was 21.9 per 100,000 troops. Five years ago, the suicide rate among troops was 18.5 per 100,000 service members," according to the report.
  • "The military's suicide rate compares with 18.2 people per 100,000 for all Americans ages 17 to 59."
  • 60% of suicides were committed using firearms.

What they're saying: Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, "I wish I could tell you we have an answer to prevent further, future suicides in the Armed Services. We don’t. We are caught up in what some call a national epidemic of suicide among our youth," per AP.

Worth noting: The report says it has been adjusted for age and gender, so the military's suicide rate is about the same as the rest of America's.

Go deeper: The suicide rate in every state

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.