Surveillance for violent deaths--national violent death reporting system, 16 States, 2006

MMWR Surveill Summ. 2009 Mar 20;58(1):1-44.


Problem/condition: An estimated 50,000 persons die annually in the United States as a result of violence-related injuries. This report summarizes data from CDC's National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) regarding violent deaths from 16 U.S. states for 2006. Results are reported by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, marital status, location of injury, method of injury, circumstances of injury, and other selected characteristics.

Reporting period covered: 2006.

Description of system: NVDRS collects data regarding violent deaths obtained from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports. NVDRS began operation in 2003 with seven states (Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, and Virginia) participating; six states (Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) joined in 2004 and four (California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Utah) in 2005, for a total of 17 states. This report includes data from 16 states that collected statewide data; data from California are not included in this report because NVDRS has been implemented only in a limited number of California cities and counties rather than statewide.

Results: For 2006, a total of 15,007 fatal incidents involving 15,395 violent deaths occurred in the 16 NVDRS states included in this report. The majority (55.9%) of deaths were suicides, followed by homicides and deaths involving legal intervention (e.g. a suspect is killed by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty)(28.2%), violent deaths of undetermined intent (15.1%), and unintentional firearm deaths (0.7%). Suicides occurred at higher rates among males, American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), non-Hispanic whites, and persons aged 45--54 years and occurred most often in a house or apartment and involved the use of firearms. Suicides were precipitated primarily by mental-health, intimate-partner, or physical-health problems or by a crisis during the preceding 2 weeks. Homicides occurred at higher rates among males and persons aged 20--24 years; rates were highest among non-Hispanic black males. The majority of homicides involved the use of a firearm and occurred in a house or apartment or on a street/highway. Homicides were precipitated primarily by arguments and interpersonal conflicts or in conjunction with another crime. Other manners of death and special situations or populations also are highlighted in this report.

Interpretation: This report provides a detailed summary of data concerning violent deaths collected by NVDRS for 2006. The results indicate that violent deaths resulting from self-inflicted or interpersonal violence affected adults aged 20--54 years, males, and certain minority populations disproportionately. For many types of violent death, relationship problems, interpersonal conflicts, mental-health problems, and recent crises were among the primary precipitating factors. Because additional information might be reported subsequently as participating states update their findings, the data provided in this report are preliminary.

Public health action: For the occurrence of violent deaths in the United States to be better understood and ultimately prevented, accurate, timely, and comprehensive surveillance data are necessary. NVDRS data can be used to track the occurrence of violence-related fatal injuries and assist public health authorities in the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and policies to reduce and prevent violent deaths at the national, state, and local levels. The continued development and expansion of NVDRS is essential to CDC's efforts to reduce the personal, familial, and societal costs of violence. Further efforts are needed to increase the number of states participating in NVDRS, with an ultimate goal of full national representation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Young Adult