Appendix for Homicides of American Indians/Alaska Natives — National Violent Death Reporting System, United States, 2003–2018

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Appendix : Circumstances preceding homicide — National Violent Death Reporting System

Mental health/substance use

  • Current depressed mood: decedent was perceived by self or others to be feeling depressed at the time of death.
  • Current diagnosed mental health problem: decedent was identified as having a mental health disorder or syndrome listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Version (DSM-5), with the exception of alcohol and other substance dependence (these are captured in separate variables).
  • Current mental health treatment: decedent was receiving mental health treatment as evidenced by a current prescription for a psychotropic medication, visit or visits to a mental health professional, or participation in a therapy group within the previous 2 months.
  • History of ever being treated for mental health problem: decedent was identified as having ever received mental health treatment.
  • Alcohol problem: decedent was perceived by self or others to have a problem with, or to be addicted to, alcohol.
  • Substance use problem (excludes alcohol): decedent was perceived by self or others to have a problem with, or be addicted to, a substance other than alcohol.
  • Other addiction: decedent was perceived by self or others to have an addiction other than to alcohol or other substance (e.g., gambling or sex).


  • Family relationship problem: decedent was experiencing problems with a family member, other than an intimate partner.
  • Intimate partner violence–related: incident is related to conflict between current or former intimate partners; includes the death of an intimate partner or nonintimate partner (e.g., child, parent, friend, or law enforcement officer) killed in an incident that originated in a conflict between intimate partners.
  • Jealousy (lovers’ triangle): jealousy or distress over an intimate partner’s relationship or suspected relationship with another person.
  • Other relationship problem (nonintimate): decedent was experiencing problems with a friend or associate (other than an intimate partner or family member).
  • Victim of interpersonal violence during previous month: decedent was the target of interpersonal violence during the past month.
  • Perpetrator of interpersonal violence during previous month: decedent perpetrated interpersonal violence during the previous month.

Life stressor

  • Argument or conflict: a specific argument or disagreement led to the victim’s death.
  • Crisis during previous or upcoming 2 weeks: current crisis or acute precipitating event or events that either occurred during the previous 2 weeks or was impending in the following 2 weeks (e.g., a trial for a criminal offense begins the following week) and appeared to have contributed to the death. Crises typically are associated with specific circumstance variables (e.g., family relationship problem was a crisis).
  • History of child abuse/neglect: as a child, decedent had history of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse; physical (including medical or dental), emotional, or educational neglect; exposure to a violent environment, or inadequate supervision by a caretaker.
  • Physical fight (two persons, not a brawl): a physical fight between two persons that resulted in the death of the decedent, who was either involved in the fight, a bystander, or trying to stop the fight.

Crime and criminal activity

  • Drug involvement: drug dealing, drug trade, or illicit drug use.
  • Gang related: incident resulted from gang activity or gang rivalry; not used if the decedent was a gang member and the death did not appear to result from gang activity.
  • Precipitated by another crime: incident occurred as the result of another serious crime.
  • Nature of crime: the specific type of other crime that occurred during the incident. Examples include the following:
    • Arson: to unlawfully and intentionally damage, or attempt to damage, any building, real estate, or personal property by fire or incendiary device.
    • Assault or homicide: an unlawful fatal or nonfatal attack by one person upon another. To qualify as a serious crime, the assault should be an aggravated assault (one that involves bodily injury or threat with a deadly weapon).
    • Burglary: the unlawful entry into a building or other structure without the owner’s consent and with the intent to commit a felony or a theft.
    • Drug trade: the buying, selling, or passing of drugs from one person to another in exchange for goods or money.
    • Robbery: taking, or attempting to take, anything of value from another person or persons by force or threat of force or violence.
    • Rape or sexual assault: a sexual act that is committed or attempted by another person without freely given consent of the victim or against someone who is unable to consent or refuse.
  • Crime in progress: another serious crime was in progress at the time of the incident.
  • Terrorist attack: decedent was injured in a terrorist attack, leading to death.

Homicide event

  • Brawl: mutual physical fight involving three or more persons.
  • Caretaker abuse/neglect led to death: decedent was experiencing physical, sexual, or psychological abuse; physical (including medical or dental), emotional, or educational neglect; exposure to a violent environment; or inadequate supervision by a caretaker that led to death.
  • Drive-by shooting: suspect drove near the decedent and fired a weapon while driving.
  • Hate crime: decedent was selected intentionally because of decedent’s actual or perceived gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or disability.
  • Justifiable self-defense: decedent was killed by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty or by a civilian in legitimate self-defense or in defense of others.
  • Mentally ill suspect: suspect’s attack on decedent was believed to be the direct result of a mental illness.
  • Mercy killing: decedent wished to die because of a terminal or hopeless disease or condition, and documentation indicates that the decedent wanted to be killed.
  • Prostitution: prostitution or related activity that includes prostitutes, pimps, clients, or others involved in such activity.
  • Random violence: decedent was killed in a random act of violence (i.e., an act in which the suspect is not concerned with who is being harmed, just that someone is being harmed).
  • Stalking: pattern of unwanted harassing or threatening tactics by either the decedent or suspect.
  • Victim was a bystander: decedent was not the intended target in the incident (e.g., pedestrian walking past a gang fight).
  • Victim was an intervener assisting a crime victim: decedent was attempting to assist a crime victim at the time of the incident (e.g., a child attempts to intervene and is killed while trying to assist a parent who is being assaulted).
  • Victim was a police officer on duty: decedent was a law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
  • Victim used a weapon: decedent used a weapon to attack or defend during the course of the incident.
  • Walk-by assault: decedent was killed by a targeted attack (e.g., ambush) after which the suspect fled on foot.


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