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CDC – National Violent Death Reporting System

August 6, 2011

An argument. The loss of a job. Alcohol and drug abuse. For thousands of Americans each year, personal crises, relationship problems, or emotional distress can contribute to homicide and suicide. Violence takes its toll on individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States. No one is immune to violence. It affects people across the lifespan—from infants to the elderly.

Tragically, more than 32,000 people die by suicide in the United States each year. Homicide claims another 18,000 people in this country annually.  We know these numbers can be lowered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to preventing violent deaths in the United States.  While we don’t have all the answers, the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) can help provide communities with a clearer understanding of violent deaths so we can prevent them.

In 2002, CDC received funding to create NVDRS. It is a state-based surveillance system that collects facts from different sources about the same incident.   The information—from death certificates, police reports, and coroner or medical examiner reports—is pooled into a useable, anonymous database.   As NVDRS data become available, state and local violence prevention practitioners use it to guide their prevention programs, policies, and practices.

Before CDC established NVDRS, frontline investigators, including homicide detectives, coroners, crime lab investigators and medical examiners, collected valuable information about violent deaths. But they did not combine the information into one comprehensive reporting system that provided the complete picture.  Instead, data remained in pieces, across a variety of different systems.

To stop these violent deaths, we must first understand all the facts. Linking information about the “who, when, where and how” from data on violent deaths will provide insights about “why” they occurred.  To answer the questions surrounding violent deaths, NVDRS:

  1. links records to describe in detail the circumstances that may contribute to a violent death;
  2. identifies violent deaths occurring in the same incident to help describe the circumstances of multiple homicides or homicide–suicides;
  3. provides timely preliminary information on violent deaths; and
  4. better characterizes the relationship of the victim to the suspect.

Today NVDRS operates in 18 states, pulling together data on violent deaths (including child maltreatment fatalities, intimate partner homicides, other homicides, suicides, and legal intervention deaths), unintentional firearm injury deaths, and deaths of undetermined intent.   NVDRS data help to:

  1. inform decision makers and program planners about the magnitude, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths so that appropriate prevention efforts can be identified and put into place.
  2. facilitate the evaluation of state-based prevention programs and strategies.

Moving forward, NVDRS states will continue to make better use of data currently being collected by health, law enforcement, and coroner/medical examiners. With continued expansion, CDC’s NVDRS will increase knowledge about where the problem of violent death exists, the groups who are most at risk, and trends over time.  This system can provide a foundation upon which to build many activities and processes necessary for successful violence prevention.

via CDC – National Violent Death Reporting System.

One Comment
  1. Do you have a sense that a national data base, trend data, or an increase in prevention programming will help reduce the number of suicides?

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