WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten months into 2012, the number of suspected suicides by active-duty soldiers has surpassed last year’s total, even as the Pentagon struggles to stem the persistent problem.

According to the Army, there were 20 possible suicides in October, bringing the total for the year to 166 — one more than the total for 2011. The 20 suspected soldier suicides in October is also a spike, compared to 15 in September.

U.S. Army officials have been worried about the pace of suicides this year and were concerned the numbers would surge higher than last year despite efforts to increase programs and outreach. In late September, the Army ordered a service-wide “stand down” requiring soldiers to put aside their usual duties and spend time discussing suicide prevention, including how to identify signs of trouble with their comrades.

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