State By State Advocacy

National Violent Death Reporting System Can Help Prevent Suicide Among Veterans

U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Holds Hearing on Veterans’ Health; Demonstrates Need to Expand National Violent Death Reporting System to All 50 States


Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2007)—Dr. Mark Kaplan of Portland State University and a member of the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA’s National Scientific Advisory Council today testified at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing entitled “Veterans’ Health: Ensuring Care for our Aging Heroes” and voiced his support for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).

“NVDRS tracks the circumstances surrounding a suicide – for example, whether someone who died by suicide was being treated for depression, had discussed their intention with someone else or was in a difficult life circumstance so that a complete picture of the suicide is created,” Kaplan said. “NVDRS is only funded in 17 states – and its full implementation in all 50 states must be a priority as we work to prevent suicide among veterans.”

NVDRS, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a comprehensive, linked reporting system that collects and centralizes information on violent deaths, including suicides, from a variety of sources, such as medical examiners and coroners, law enforcement, hospitals, public health officials and crime labs.

While veterans make up about 11 percent of the U.S. population, they account for about 20 percent of deaths by suicide, according to NVDRS data.

The National Violence Prevention Network ( is working to fully implement NVDRS in the United States to enable every state to design and implement effective violent death prevention programs. While state-specific information provides enormous value to local public health and law enforcement officials, national data from all 50 states, the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia must be obtained to complete the picture and establish effective national suicide prevention policies and programs.


NVPN Contact:
Paul Bonta
(202) 466-2044

Media Contact:
Annika Toenniessen
(202) 715-1566