National Violent Death Reporting System
Frequently Asked Questions
Which deaths are included in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)?
NVDRS defines a violent death as a death that results from the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or a group or community.
NVDRS collects information about violent deaths, such as homicides, suicides, and deaths where individuals are killed by law enforcement in the line of duty. In addition, NVDRS gathers information about unintentional firearm injury deaths and on deaths where the intent cannot be determined, although these deaths are not considered violent deaths by the above definition.
Deaths are included in NVDRS if their underlying causes (i.e., International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) codes) or their NVDRS abstractor assigned manner of death meets NVDRS case definitions. Examples of ICD-10 codes include:
|International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes used in the National Violent Death Reporting System|
|Manner of death||Death ≤1 year after injury||Death >1 year after injury|
|Intentional self-harm (suicide)||X60–X84||Y87.0|
|Assault (homicide)||X85–X99, Y00–Y09||Y87.1|
|Event of undetermined intent||Y10–Y34||Y87.2, Y89.9|
|Unintentional exposure to inanimate mechanical forces (firearms)||W32–W34||Y86 determined to be attributable to firearms|
|Legal intervention (excluding executions, Y35.5)||Y35.0–Y35.4, Y35.6–Y35.7||Y89.0|
How is NVDRS designed to prevent violence?
State and local groups can use NVDRS to better understand the magnitude, trends, and characteristics of violent death so that appropriate prevention efforts can be identified and put into place. NVDRS data can also be used in the evaluation of state-based prevention programs and strategies. To learn more, read the NVDRS Success Stories.
How many violent deaths occur in the United States every year?
Each year, approximately 55,000 violent deaths occur in the United States. More Americans die from suicide (i.e., over 38,000 people) than homicide (i.e., over 16,000 people). NVDRS operates in 18 states, covering about 33% of all violent deaths in the United States.
NVDRS’s Online Database is a reporting tool that can help you get more information on violent deaths. This tool goes beyond providing basic information, such as race, sex, and age, to providing comprehensive details on circumstances surrounding the violent death.
To learn more about NVDRS statistics, refer to the latest NVDRS Surveillance Summary.
Why does NVDRS collect circumstances of a violent death and what are some of the circumstances collected?
NVDRS seeks to address why violent deaths occurred by understanding the “who”, “when”, “where”, and “how” of violent deaths, unintentional firearm injury deaths, and deaths of undetermined intent. Circumstances are recorded by law enforcement, medical examiners, and coroners and NVDRS integrates this information so it can be used together.
For suicides, circumstances may include a history of depression or other mental health problems; recent problems with a job, finances, or relationships; or the recent death of a family member. Homicide circumstances may include arguments over money or property, intimate partner violence, a crime in progress such as robbery, gang activity, or drugs. Information about circumstances is important to help target prevention activities. See table below for a more detailed list of circumstances.
|Circumstances preceding fatal injury, by manner of death — National Violent Death Reporting System, 2010|
Unintentional Firearm Death
What weapon information is collected by NVDRS?
NVDRS collects data on mechanisms leading to injury, including:
- Firearm: method that uses a powder charge to fire a projectile
- Sharp instrument: knife, razor, machete, or pointed instrument (e.g., chisel or broken glass)
- Blunt instrument: club, bat, rock, or brick
- Poisoning: street drug, alcohol, pharmaceutical, carbon monoxide, gas, rat poison, or insecticide
- Hanging/strangulation/suffocation: hanging by the neck, manual strangulation, or plastic bag over the head
- Personal weapons: hands, fists, or feet
- Fall: being pushed or jumping
- Drowning: inhalation of liquid in bathtub, lake, or other source of water/liquid
- Fire/burn: inhalation of smoke or the direct effects of fire or chemical burns
- Shaking: shaking a baby, child, or adult
- Motor vehicle: car, bus, or motorcycle
- Other transport vehicle: train or airplane
- Intentional neglect: starvation, lack of adequate supervision, or withholding of health care
- Other: any method other than those listed above
- Unknown: method not reported or not known
NVDRS collects more detailed information on firearms and poisons, such as the type of firearm or substance involved. These data are obtained from law enforcement, coroner and medical examiner, and crime lab reports.
What makes NVDRS unique?
Other data systems mainly count deaths and provide basic demographic information. In contrast—
- NVDRS gathers and links detailed investigative information from several sources, including law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners, crime laboratories, and death certificates. With this linked information, NVDRS is able to provide a more complete picture of the circumstances that may contribute to a violence death.
- NVDRS combines deaths that occurred during the same violent event to help identify circumstances of multiple homicides or homicides followed by the suicide of the homicide suspect.
- NVDRS collects information on the suspect and the relationship of the victim to the suspect to better characterize homicides.
- NVDRS data allows for the analysis of emerging issues. Recently, NVDRS has been used to examine violent deaths with multiple decedents, suicides among of active duty army personnel, and gang homicides.
How can NVDRS data be obtained?
Descriptive data can be accessed free of charge from NCIPC’s Web-based Injury Statistics and Query System (WISQARS). This Online Database for NVDRS is a reporting tool that can help you get more information on violent deaths. This tool goes beyond providing basic information, such as race, sex, and age, to providing comprehensive details on circumstances surrounding the violent death.
More detailed data from the NVDRS Restricted Access Database (RAD) is available by request for users meeting certain eligibility criteria. NVDRS Restricted Access Dataset (RAD) is available for public health research. All RAD proposals must be accompanied by a data sharing agreement that places restrictions on how, when, and by whom the data may be used.
Can NVDRS be used to look at homicides followed by suicides and mass shootings?
NVDRS is an incident-based system, which means it is able to link deaths that occurred during the same violent event to help identify the circumstances of multiple homicides or homicides followed by suicides.
How does NVDRS preserve the confidentiality of death records?
State health departments submit information to CDC only after it has been stripped of all potentially identifying details, including names, addresses, and dates of birth. The names of individual victims and suspects are not released at the state-level. Local laws that protect other types of health department records, such as communicable disease records, also apply to NVDRS files.
Do states have to report these deaths to CDC?
State laws require that death certificates be filed for all deaths and that violent deaths, including homicides, suicides, and deaths of undetermined intent, be reviewed by a coroner or medical examiner. States that are funded for NVDRS operate under a cooperative agreement with CDC to whom all violent deaths are voluntarily reported.
What states collect NVDRS data?
CDC received funding to create NVDRS in 2002. NVDRS currently operates in 18 states. These states receive cooperative agreements through the CDC. For a complete list of states, see: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nvdrs/stateprofiles.html.
Continued development and expansion of NVDRS will allow CDC to provide information for every state to inform their prevention efforts. It will also ensure we have enhanced information on the national scope of the problem of violent deaths to monitor and track trends and to inform national violence prevention efforts.
How come my state does not have a violent death reporting system?
Cooperative agreements were awarded to the states that applied and successfully competed for available funding.
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