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Friday, April 11, 2008

CDC Releases Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System

An estimated 50,000 persons die annually in the United States as a result of violence-related injuries - approximately 137 people each day. Most communities lack the information they need to understand and ultimately prevent these deaths. Responding to this need, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) established the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2002. NVDRS provides a comprehensive picture of violent death because it combines information from toxicology reports, crime reports, medical/coroners reports, death certificates, and other reports related to each death. By taking the once fragmented pieces of information and connecting them, NVDRS helps researchers and public health practitioners see more about the circumstances surrounding the violent deaths.

CDC is pleased to present the first detailed summary of data concerning violent deaths from 16 states collected by NVDRS in the April 11, 2008 edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries (MMWR). The report, "Surveillance for Violent Deaths - National Violent Death Reporting System, 16 States, 2005," summarizes data on nearly 16,000 violent deaths occurring in 16 states in CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for 2005. The report examines several types of violent death, including incidents with multiple victims; provides up to date information on the demographic characteristics of violent deaths; and describes precipitating factors for violent deaths such as intimate partner violence and relationship problems, mental health problems, and drug or alcohol use at the time of death.

Findings show the majority of violent deaths included in the report were suicides (56percent); followed by homicides and deaths involving legal interventions (30 percent); violent deaths of undetermined intent (13 percent); and unintentional firearm deaths (0.7 percent). Other key findings in the report include:

* Approximately one third of homicides were precipitated by another crime.

* In 79 percent of these cases, the crime was in progress at the time of the incident.

* The crime was most often a robbery (40 percent), followed by assault(16 percent) or activity related to the drug trade (10 percent).

* Nearly 46 percent of suicide victims were described as experiencing a depressed mood. Almost as many were diagnosed with mental health problems (42 percent), yet only 33 percent of all suicide victims were known to be receiving mental health treatment at the time of death.

* Suicides by former and current military personnel comprised 20 percent of all suicides.

* Among military personnel suicides, 38 percent of decedents had a physical health problem that was believed to have contributed to the suicide-nearly twice as many as non-military personnel.

* Two hundred violent incidents involved a homicide followed by the suicide of the suspect.

* Seventy-five percent of victims were female, whereas 90 percent of suspects (suicide decedents) were male.

* Relationship problems or intimate partner violence (IPV) were precipitating factors for many forms of violence.

* Nineteen percent of all homicides were precipitated by IPV.

* Fifty-two percent of all female homicides were precipitated by IPV compared with nine percent of all male homicides.

* Thirty-two percent of all suicides were precipitated by a problem with an intimate partner.

* Alcohol intoxication was involved in many violent deaths: of the victims tested for alcohol (76 percent), nearly 60 percent were above the legal limit of 0.08 BAC at the time of death.

Information in this report provides some important clues to focus prevention
efforts:

* Relationship problems or intimate partner conflict were precipitating factors for many forms of violence. Programs designed to enhance social problem-solving and coping skills, and skills dealing with stressful life events have potential to reduce violence.

* Prevention programs and efforts aimed at addressing mental health problems may reduce some of the precipitating factors for violence.

* Programs and efforts to increase education and outreach about warning signs for violence are very important for prevention.

For more information on this report and NVDRS please visit www.cdc.gov/injury . You can also view an electronic copy of this document at (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5703a1.htm