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US Army Suicides Reach Record Level

U.S. defense officials say suicides among U.S. Army troops soared again last year, reaching the highest level since the Army began tracking suicides in 1980.

Officials say at least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008 - up from 115 in 2007. The final count is likely to be even higher as 15 other possible suicides are under investigation.

As it stands now, the suicide rate calculates to about 20 soldiers out of every 100,000.

The Army is launching a new effort to study the problem and determine why soldier suicides continue to rise. Authorities have said troops are under tremendous, unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Marines also reported a jump in suicides, from 33 in 2007 to 41 in 2008.

Last year, an army official said most soldier suicides do not happen in war zones.

A 2007 study found the most common triggers included failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of the job.

Concerns have mounted over problems with the U.S. military health care system, which has been overwhelmed by large numbers of troops suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and other mental health issues, as well as physical injuries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP