(WASHINGTON) -- A new Pentagon report detailing the number of suicide attempts and deaths for U.S. service members has found that while military suicides dropped in 2013 from the previous year, more soldiers in the Army National Guard and Reserve took their own lives. The Department of Defense said that in 2012, there were 319 deaths by suicide among active component service members.
Preliminary data for 2013 shows 261 deaths in the same category, a drop of nearly 20 percent. Meanwhile, 203 reserve component members took their own lives in 2012, compared to initial numbers for the last year showing 213 deaths.
"The department takes suicide prevention very seriously and considers any measure that saves a life as one worth taking," said Lt. Gen. Michael S. Linnington.
Linnington, who serves as the military deputy to the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, added that the report provides a "greater understanding" to the conditions linked to the "very serious problem."
One of the department's top priorities is helping service members and their families. As a result, the agency has hired approximately 9,425 mental health professionals in 2013.
The Department of Defense will also implement a new method of calculating the suicide rates, using procedures in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prior to the change, each service branch totaled the service member rates by way of their own processes.
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