An estimated 55,000 persons die annually in the United States as a result of violence-related injuries. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15–24 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 1–4 and 25–34 years, and the fourth leading cause for persons aged 5–9 and 10–14 years. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons aged 25–34 years, the third leading cause for persons aged 10–14 and 15–24 years, and the fourth leading cause for persons aged 35–44 and 45–54 years.
Public health authorities require accurate, timely, and comprehensive surveillance data to better understand and ultimately prevent the occurrence of violent deaths in the United States (3). In 2000, CDC began planning to implement the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) (4,5). NVDRS has several system-specific goals, which include to:
- collect and analyze timely, high-quality data that monitors the magnitude and characteristics of violent death at the national, state, and local levels;
- ensure data are disseminated routinely and expeditiously to public health officials, law enforcement officials, policy makers, and the public;
- ensure data are used to develop, implement, and evaluate programs and strategies that are intended to reduce and prevent violent deaths and injuries at the national, state, and local levels; and,
- build and strengthen partnerships among organizations and communities at the national, state, and local levels to ensure that data are collected and used to reduce and prevent violent deaths and injuries.
NVDRS was conceived as a state-based active surveillance system that would collect risk-factor data concerning all violence-related deaths, including homicides, suicides, and legal intervention deaths (i.e., deaths caused by law enforcement and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force; excluding legal executions), as well as unintentional firearm deaths and deaths of undetermined intent. NVDRS data are used to assist the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and strategies designed to reduce and prevent these deaths at the national, state, and local levels.
Before implementation of NVDRS, single data sources (e.g., death certificates or law enforcement data systems) provided only limited information and few circumstances from which to understand patterns of deaths collected by the system. NVDRS fills this gap in surveillance; it is the first system to provide detailed information on circumstances precipitating violent deaths, the first to link multiple source documents on violence-related deaths to enable researchers to understand each death more completely, and the first to link multiple deaths that are related to one another (e.g., multiple homicides, multiple suicides, and cases of homicide followed by the suicide of the suspected perpetrator).
NVDRS began data collection in 2003 with seven states (Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia) participating; six states (Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) joined in 2004, four more (California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Utah) in 2005; and two (Ohio and Michigan) in 2010, for a total of 19 states (Figure). California concluded its participation in 2009. CDC provides funding for state participation and anticipates that NVDRS will expand to include all 50 states, the District of Columbia (DC), and U.S. territories in the future.
This report summarizes data for 2010 for deaths meeting NVDRS inclusion criteria from 16 states that collected statewide data (approximately 27.6% of the U.S. population) (1,6). California data are not included in this report because data were not collected after 2009. Data for Ohio and Michigan were excluded because data collection did not occur statewide until 2011. Because additional information might be reported subsequently as participating states update their findings, the data provided in this report are preliminary. NVDRS data are updated annually and are available through CDC's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) at http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nvdrs.html.