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(U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON – A sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt killed himself Tuesday morning while standing security watch on a pier at Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego, a Navy spokesman confirmed.

The sailor, who held the rank of E-3 or seaman, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to Brian O'Rourke, a spokesman for Navy Region Southwest.

An investigation into the sailor’s death by Naval Criminal Investigative Service is ongoing, O’Rourke said Wednesday in a statement.

The sailor’s identity was not released pending notification of their next of kin.

The Roosevelt returned to its homeport of San Diego on July 9 after a six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, where the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was sidelined by an outbreak of the coronavirus. On March 27, the ship arrived in Guam, where it remained for nearly two months as the virus spread among the ship’s crew of more than 4,800 sailors, eventually infecting 1,273 sailors and killing one.

On Tuesday, the ship left the base in California to conduct routine operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean, according to the Navy.

The available data on military suicides for this year is incomplete. However, The Associated Press reported in September that military suicides have increased as much as 20% this year compared with the same period in 2019.

The Defense Department’s most recent data on suicides was released Oct. 1 for the first quarter of 2020, which includes January to March -- the early months of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The report showed there were 85 suicides in the active-duty Army, 16 in the Reserve force, and 23 in the Air and Army National Guard. While the Air Force and Navy had decreases in suicide deaths compared with the same quarter last year, the Army had eight more soldiers kill themselves in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. The Marine Corps had 14 suicides in both years for the first three months. The Army National Guard saw 19 suicides in the first three months this year, identical to 2019. Twitter: @caitlinmkenney


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