State By State Advocacy
 

Download an Overview for Law Enforcement Professionals

Merging Public Health and Public Safety Data for Prevention

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a state-based, national data system for suicide, homicide and selected other injury deaths. The system links data from public health and public safety agencies. Its purpose is to guide prevention programs and public policy by supplying detailed, objective information.

Aside from death certificates, previously there has been no source of ongoing data about suicide victims, including their mental health and treatment status or the circumstances preceding their death. For homicides, the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting System’s Supplementary Homicide Reports (and, in jurisdictions that use it, the National Incident-Based Reporting System) has been a vital tool for tracking trends and evaluating prevention strategies. The NVDRS builds on the UCR by adding additional information learned during the course of a violent death investigation, for example, whether the toxicology screen detected the presence of cocaine in a homicide victim, or an antidepressant in a suicide victim and whether the victim was pregnant. The new information, and the public health focus on prevention, brings new partners to the table from many disciplines to work on preventing violent deaths.


 

NVDRS

Uniform Crime Reports

SHR[1]

Uniform Crime Reports

NIBRS[1]

Type of deaths covered by system…

…Murder and non-negligent manslaughter

X

X

X

…Justifiable homicide

X

X

X

…Negligent manslaughter

X

X (not always available)

X (not always available)

…Suicide

X

   

…Unintentional death from firearm

X

   

…Injury death of unknown intent

X

   

Data Source…

…Law enforcement

X

X

X

…Coroner/medical examiner

X

   

…Forensic toxicology laboratory (tox screen report)

X

   

…Crime laboratory (firearm & toolmark examiner report)

X

   

…Child Fatality Review data - selected states only

X

   

Federal coordinating agency

CDC

FBI

FBI

State coordinating agency

State health department or alternate

Usually state UCR office

Usually state UCR office

Database structure: relational (to link incidents involving multiple victims and/or offenders)

X

 

X

National coverage?

Not yet.

17 states in 2005; 50 state coverage planned as funds become available

X

(with the exception of non-participating jurisdictions)

No

Most large cities and many smaller jurisdictions not included

Free software for data entry provided?

X

   

Ability to add state-defined variables?

X

X

X

Database provides information on…

…Victim(s) and offender(s) demographics and relationship

X

X

X

…Relationship of victim(s) to offenders(s)

X

X limited ability to handle multiple-person incidents

X

…Precipitating circumstance

Multiple

Single

Multiple

…Weapon

Multiple

Single

Multiple

…Law enforcement jurisdiction

X

X

X

…Type of location, other precipitating crimes, date & time

X

 

X

…Arrestee and charge information

 

X

 

…Specific firearm type, make, model, caliber

X

   

…Toxicology results

X

   

…Additional victim info: employment, education, marital status, veteran status, place of birth, place of residence, death date, place of death (inpatient, ED, scene), survival time, autopsy info

X

   

…Additional information on child abuse and intimate partner violence cases

X

   

…Source of firearms used by under-age shooters

X

   

…Suicide victim’s mental health, substance abuse, and treatment status; history of previous attempts and threats; precipitating or associated circumstances

X

   

 

How It Works

The CDC provides funding to a state agency (usually the state health department) to assemble existing data on all violent deaths in that state. The state NVDRS unit links information from various data sources and enters it into software provided by the CDC. For convenience, law enforcement data can be transmitted to the state NVDRS unit in a number of ways, including electronically (e.g. NIBRS data), by fax, by allowing NVDRS coders on site to review cases and code information on laptops or by paying trained law enforcement personnel to enter data with NVDRS funding. The data are stripped of identifiers before being forwarded to the national database. Final data are made publicly available by the CDC and states following guidelines to prevent it from being used to identify individual cases. Data are used by agencies, researchers, community groups, etc., for prevention and planning, to track trends and to evaluate interventions.

For More Information

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Mailstop F-64
4770 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta GA 30341-3724

Phone: 800-CDC-INFO
Email: cdcinfo@cdc.gov

[1] Supplementary Homicide Report; National Incident-Based Reporting System. Chart summarizes national format of each system; some states have additional state-added data elements