Violence is a major public health problem. Over 57,000 people died violently in the United States in 2012, including 40,600 suicides and 17,238 homicides. Accurate, timely, and comprehensive surveillance data is needed to better understand and ultimately prevent the occurrence of violent deaths in the US. A variety of public agencies such as law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners, and vital statistics collect information on violent deaths. Information from these sources, however, is not systematically integrated into a single description of violent death. This results in an incomplete and fragmented description of violent deaths.
The National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) is a state-based surveillance system that links data from law enforcement, coroners, medical examiners, vital death statistics, and crime laboratories to assist each participating state in designing and implementing tailored prevention and intervention efforts.
NVDRS collects information on violent deaths, unintentional firearm deaths, and undetermined deaths, such as where victims are killed, when they are killed, and what factors appeared to contribute to or precipitate the death. NVDRS is the first system to provide detailed information on circumstances precipitating violent deaths including brief narratives, to combine information across multiple data sources, to comprehensively describe violent deaths, and to link multiple deaths that are related to one another (e.g., multiple homicides, suicide pacts, and cases of homicide followed by the suicide of the alleged perpetrator).
The purpose of NVDRS is to build the capacity of states to collect and disseminate surveillance data on violent deaths. Such data provide critical insight into the magnitude, trends, and characteristics of violent deaths. NVDRS funding enables states to collect comprehensive and standardized descriptions of violent deaths by integrating information across multiple data sources, including death certificates, coroner reports, medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports in a standardized manner. The collection of surveillance data on violent deaths is designed to enhance the effectiveness of violence prevention efforts implemented by stakeholders including public health and government agencies, researchers, community organizations, and the public. NVDRS data can be disseminated to stakeholders so that appropriate violence prevention efforts can be identified, selected, targeted, implemented and evaluated with the ultimate goal of reducing violent deaths.
In 2018, Wyoming was awarded NVDRS funding and is currently implementing this process for the first time in the state.