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Military suicides drop significantly, defense officials say

Published On: Nov 11 2013 03:09:51 PM CST

WASHINGTON -

Defense officials say suicides across the military have dropped by more than 22 percent this year, amid an array of new programs targeting what the Defense Department calls an epidemic that took more service members' lives last year than the war in Afghanistan did during that same period.

Military officials were reluctant to pin the decline on detection and prevention efforts by the services, acknowledging that they still don't fully understand why troops take their own lives. And since many of those who have committed suicide in recent years had never served on the warfront, officials also do not attribute the decrease to the drawdown in Afghanistan.

The officials provided the data to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose it publicly.