- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The rate of military suicides have dropped by 22 percent this year, giving defense officials cautious hope that preventive efforts are working.

So far this year, 245 service members have committed suicide. At the same time last year, there had been 316, according to figures obtained by the Associated Press.

Last year, 349 active duty troops committed suicide — more than were killed in Afghanistan that year, 295.

The Pentagon and its four armed services have been stepping up preventive efforts ranging from hiring more mental health professionals to expanding crisis hotline hours and distributing gun locks.

Defense officials say the reasons for suicide are not linked to deployments but could result from various factors, including service members’ problems with finances, relationships and legal matters.