1970s and ‘80s saw the emergence of violence and suicide as public
health concerns. It was also during that time that public health
officials started talking about the need to survey, classify and track
data on violent deaths on a national level so that they might be
prevented. In the late 1990s, that data system — the predecessor
to the NVDRS — was created.
Societal costs of injury-related morbidity and mortality were estimated
at $260 billion in 1995. Given the staggering costs, the
Committee on Injury Prevention and Control was appointed by the
Institute of Medicine in March 1997, with funding from several private
foundations. The committee was directed to "make recommendations
intended to further develop the field of injury prevention and control
and to reduce the burden of injury in America."
The Committee on Injury Prevention and Control released its report, Reducing the Burden of Injury: Advancing Prevention and Treatment,
in which it suggested a detailed, linked tracking system for all
homicides and suicides in the United States, similar to the Department
of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
foundations pooled private money to fund a pilot program called the
National Violent Injury Statistics System (NVISS). The Harvard
School of Public Health provided technical leadership for NVISS, with
assistance from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). Many of the methods and information gathered by
the NVDRS today were established by the original NVISS program.
Thirteen NVISS sites across the country began collecting comprehensive,
multi-source data on violent deaths. The results were appreciable
almost immediately, revealing facts about violence that had not
previously been recognized, such as the findings that one-third of
youth suicides were associated with same-day crisis events, and that
two-thirds of men who killed their intimate partner with a firearm
committed suicide during the incident.
system demonstrated that compiling such data was both feasible and
valuable for a better understanding of violence. As knowledge grew,
Harvard School of Public Health hosted a consensus meeting with public
health experts, federal agency stakeholders, violence prevention groups
and private foundations, where it was decided that the CDC would direct
a publicly funded system to track all violent deaths. The scope
and approach of the NVDRS were established, and CDC was named to lead
the program. The CDC estimated that full 50-state coverage,
including the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, would cost
$20 million annually.
Congress made its first appropriation to the CDC for NVDRS, which was funded
in six states: Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina
and Virginia. Nearly 20 states had applied to the CDC for the grants.
Congress appropriated additional funds to the CDC to expand NVDRS to seven
more states: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island
and Wisconsin. These seven states were chosen from a field of 16 that had
applied to the CDC for funding.
Congress appropriated enough funds to the CDC to expand
NVDRS to four additional states out of the 10 that applied:
California, Kentucky, New Mexico and Utah.
NVDRS received $3.34 million and expansion leveled off, leaving about two-thirds
of the country excluded from NVDRS data. CDC published findings drawn
from the original six NVDRS participating states. Results
showed an increase in 2003 homicide and suicide rates over 2002 rates.
Federal funding remained level. CDC released two more reports on NVDRS data
that focused on homicides and suicides.
New studies, published in the journal Injury Prevention, identified
patterns of violent death in America, leading to effective prevention strategies.
At least six NVDRS states released comprehensive suicide prevention plans
with the assistance of NVDRS data.
Federal funding remains level. The National Violence Prevention Network is
formally established in 2007 to increase federal funding for NVDRS to expand the
program to all 50 states by 2015. Founding members are among the more than
35 national violence prevention, law enforcement, public health and suicide
prevention organizations that support NVDRS.
Federal funding increases by over $7 million for NVDRS as a
result of advocacy efforts by local, state, and national
public health organizations and as a response to increasing
media attention on violent deaths in the United States.
The NVDRS funding level is set at $11 million, allowing
nearly half of state health departments to implement this
important program. An additional 14 states were brought into
the program bringing the the total to 32 states.
Federal funding remains level to fund NVDRS for a total of
32 states to collect information about violent deaths.
Federal funding increases by an additional $5 million as
part of the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The bill
also removed problematic language that would have barred
NVDRS from collecting firearms. This additional funding
allowed for the expansion of NVDRS for an additional 10
states and territories
for a total of 42 states and territories.