As the Pentagon struggles to stem a rising number of suicides in the force, a new study suggests combat appears to have no influence on suicide rates among troops and veterans.

'It doesn't completely rule out that there are military factors that contribute, but it doesn't point specifically to combat or deployment as being a risk factor,' said Dr. Charles Hoge, a study co-author.

Another author of the study noted that as the suicide rate increased, so did the number of people with mental illness serving in the military.

For the first time, the study sampled the entire military population - active duty and retired - over several years.

An expert not involved in the study said the results provide only a snapshot and don't answer whether combat exposure actually increases lifetime suicide risks in vulnerable people.

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