Between 2000 and 2009, 2,807 West Virginians took their own lives, according to the state Council for the Prevention of Suicide. Of that number, 320 were people between 15-24 years of age.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for West Virginia residents in that age group.
On Monday, the state joined in World Suicide Prevention Day, and state officials including Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin took part in activities marking the grim occasion. Most organized suicide prevention programs aim at young people because of the high number of young people who take their own lives.
Suicides often don't make the news because most media outlets, including The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, make it a practice not to report them unless they occur in a public place or involve a government official or other well-known person.
Yet the problem, if illustrated only by the numbers, is a serious one.
And it is local. We know of suicides during the past couple of years in many of the Mid-Ohio Valley counties. According to the state prevention organization, Tyler is one of the four counties with the highest suicide rates in the state (the others are Clay, Mercer and Pocahontas).
While some suicide victims clearly were troubled in days leading up to the tragedies that claimed their lives, others display few symptoms of problems. However, the majority of suicide victims are suffering from some form of depression or other diagnosable mental or substance disorder.
That leaves it up to West Virginia residents to keep our eyes open for friends, family members, co-workers and classmates who may be susceptible to the kind of depression that can lead to suicide.
We urge people to learn more about the problem, with the goal of heading off suicidal tendencies among those around us.