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 2008. 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: 2008.
Description of system: NVDRS collects data regarding violent deaths obtained from death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports. NVDRS data collection began 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, four (California, Kentucky, New Mexico, and Utah) in 2005, and two in 2010 (Ohio and Michigan) for a total of 19 states. This report includes data from 16 states that collected statewide data in 2008; data from California are not included in this report because NVDRS was implemented only in a limited number of California cities and counties rather than statewide. Ohio and Michigan are excluded because they did not begin data collection until 2010.
Results: For 2008, a total of 15,755 fatal incidents involving 16,138 deaths were captured by NVDRS in the 16 states included in this report. The majority (58.7%) of deaths were suicides, followed by homicides and deaths involving legal intervention (i.e. deaths caused by police and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force, excluding legal executions) (26.4%), deaths of undetermined intent (14.5%), and unintentional firearm deaths (0.4%). Suicides occurred at higher rates among males, American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs), non-Hispanic whites, and persons aged 45-54 years. Suicides occurred most often in a house or apartment (70.6%) and involved the use of firearms (51.5%). Suicides were precipitated primarily by mental health (45.4%), intimate partner (30.9%), or physical health problems (22.6%), or by a crisis during the preceding 2 weeks (27.9%). 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 (65.8%) and occurred in a house or apartment (52.5%) or on a street/highway (21.3%). Homicides were precipitated primarily by arguments (41.4%) and interpersonal conflicts (18.4%) or in conjunction with another crime (30.2%). Other manners of death and special situations or populations also are highlighted in this report.
Interpretation: This report provides a detailed summary of data from NVDRS for 2008. The results indicate that violent deaths resulting from self-inflicted or interpersonal violence disproportionately affected adults aged <55 years, males, and certain minority populations. For homicides and suicides, 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 monitor 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.