Impact Examples

What to know

NVDRS increases our knowledge about where violent deaths occur, who is most at risk, and the factors that contribute to violent deaths. These data provide the foundation for building successful strategies for preventing violence so that all communities are safe and free from violence and people can live to their full potential. The following impact examples demonstrate significant efforts from states using NVDRS data to inform prevention-focused programming.

Arizona Violent Death Reporting System (AZ-VDRS)

AZ-VDRS data informed statewide suicide prevention efforts

From 1999-2016, Arizona‘s suicide rate was higher than the United States average. In 2017, Arizona’s age-adjusted suicide rate was 18.2 deaths per 100,000 population, compared to 14.0 deaths per 100,000 nationally. Knowing this, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey established a goal to prioritize healthy people and communities, and mental health resources and suicide prevention strategies became vital components to achieve that goal. The AZ-VDRS resource supports this work with data that identifies populations, locations, and circumstances associated with suicide. For example, AZ-VDRS data helped inform and expand efforts like the national veteran suicide prevention campaign, Be Connected, to address veteran suicide in Arizona. As the AZ-VDRS provides further analyses, the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Goal Council, a prevention strategy planning and implementation committee, will use AZ-VDRS data to inform future efforts.

Kansas Violent Death Reporting System (KS-VDRS)

KS-VDRS data informed youth suicide prevention task force

A 2018 report showed that Kansas suicide rates increased 45% between 1999 and 2016, making Kansas fifth in the nation for increasing suicide rates. The national average increase over that time was 25.4%. In 2018, the Kansas State Child Death Review Board 2020 Annual Report reported 35 suicides among children ages birth through 17 years old, nine of which were age 14 or younger. Due to these trends, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and partners formed a Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force. The task force used KS-VDRS data and CDC suicide prevention resources to develop eight recommendations for the state. Because of these recommendations, the attorney general’s office appointed a legislatively mandated Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator and is developing a suicide prevention mobile application to provide youth with mental health resources.

Massachusetts Violent Death Reporting System (MA-VDRS)

MA-VDRS data informed railway suicide prevention efforts

In 2017, the number of Massachusetts deaths associated with being struck by a train increased, compared to 2016. In response to these deaths, the Commuter Rail Collision Reduction Committee (CRCRC), comprised of state agency and partner organization members, formed to review information on commuter railway deaths and develop prevention recommendations. The MA-VDRS data provided insights into the circumstances surrounding these deaths and identified locations where suicides happened most frequently. With this information, the state targeted those areas with signage promoting the national suicide prevention line and improved physical barriers, such as fencing. The CRCRC reports that recent preliminary data suggest a decrease in the number of suicides on commuter railways since this committee formed and from these interventions.

New Jersey Violent Death Reporting System (NJ-VDRS)

NJ-VDRS data used to prevent youth suicide

New Jersey suicide rates increased 19.2% from 1999-2016. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families, suicide is the third leading cause of death for New Jersey youth between 10 and 24 years of age. Therefore, New Jersey focused on youth suicide prevention, using NJ-VDRS data to inform efforts. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families and the New Jersey Department of Health’s 2017 Youth Suicide Report described two of New Jersey’s funded programs for youth suicide prevention and public education. The first program is a confidential, anonymous, 24/7 helpline for New Jersey youth ages 10-24, where trained counselors help youth make healthy decisions and manage issues about peer relationships, bullying, mental health, dating, sex/sexuality, and more. Between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, the helpline identified 1,426 suicide-related conversations via phone conversations and texts. The second program promotes mental health awareness in schools through a curriculum including suicide prevention, intervention, postvention, trauma response and technical assistance to schools and communities. NJ-VDRS data have also informed the various programs that set objectives for Healthy New Jersey 2020, a statewide New Jersey Department of Health initiative that aims to address several public health issues, including reducing high school student suicide attempts. By 2019, 5.9% of all students reported a suicide attempt in the previous year, a relative decrease of 18.1% from baseline (7.2%) and exceeding the original objective’s targeted decrease. NJ-VDRS data continues to help identify and monitor progress and disparities in youth suicide rates and helps the state focus future prevention efforts on those most at risk.

Oregon Violent Death Reporting System (OR-VDRS)

OR-VDRS data used to identify suicides in veterans

In Oregon, suicide is the leading cause of death among veterans younger than 45 years, with approximately 23% of Oregon’s total suicides occurring among veterans. OR-VDRS data found that 97% of suicides among veterans were male, and firearms were a dominant suicide mechanism. Three out of four male veterans ages 18-64 who died by suicide had a diagnosed mental disorder, alcohol and/or substance use problem, or depressed mood at time of death. However, only about one in three victims were receiving mental health treatment at time of death. To address this rising problem, National Guard soldiers began participating in trainings on intervention skills before deployment. The state legislature passed a bill to add veteran suicide indicators to Oregon death certificates to increase identification and tracking of veteran suicides. These steps are working in tandem to provide valuable information about veteran suicide in Oregon and develop more effective interventions.

Utah Violent Data Reporting System data (UT-VDRS)

UT-VDRS informed Utah’s Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force

From 2011 to 2015, Utah Violent Death Reporting System (UT-VDRS) data found that the annual suicide rate among Utah youth aged 10-17 increased 136% compared to a 23.5% increase among U.S. youth. This state increase led to the creation of the Governor’s Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force. In 2018, the task force released recommendations to reduce the number of Utah youth suicides, including expanding mobile app use for young people to access real-time support, increasing mobile crisis outreach teams, and creating a suicide prevention fund that the state is implementing now. Additionally, in 2018, Utah lawmakers passed a record number of mental health and suicide prevention bills, informed by the taskforce’s recommendations. The eight new laws added counselors to Utah schools, bolstered the work of mental health crisis workers, and expanded the scope of youth suicide prevention programs in public schools, among other initiatives. Youth suicide prevention is also a focus for Utah communities who implement strategies at the local level, also informed by VDRS data. Recent data suggest a decrease in Utah teen suicides since this task force’s formation and the implementation of these legislative and community interventions.

Vermont Violent Death Reporting System (VT-VDRS)

VT-VDRS data informed UMatter School/Community Suicide Prevention Program

Suicide rates increased 48.6% in Vermont from 1999 to 2016. Utilizing VT-VDRS data, the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center (VTSPC) identified youth 10-17 years old needed suicide prevention programming the most and focused their prevention efforts on that group. VTPSC implements UMatter, a nationally recognized program with a series of trainings in schools and communities that provides a strengths-based suicide prevention approach. The training helps participants identify and respond to youth who show signs of suicide, provides parent and staff awareness sessions, and develops pre-intervention and post-intervention suicide policies and protocols. According to the Center for Health and Learning’s 2019 Annual Report, 30 staff from 16 Vermont schools participated in a UMatter for Schools two-day workshop. In the last 10 years, 135 Vermont schools participated in suicide prevention, postvention, and implementation of Lifelines, a suicide prevention curriculum for grades 7-12.

Wisconsin Violent Death Reporting System (WI-VDRS)

WI-VDRS data improves access to and quality of mental health services

The suicide rate increased 28.4% in Wisconsin between 2000 and 2019. According to the latest Wisconsin suicide prevention plan and surveillance report, Suicide in Wisconsin: Impact and Response, 271 adolescents (ages 10-19) died by suicide in Wisconsin from 2013 to 2017. WI-VDRS data helped inform which school districts and communities would benefit most from the Wisconsin School Mental Health Project. This five-year project launched in 2015 in more than 25 school districts and includes a focus on youth suicide prevention. The project aims to reduce perceived stigma associated with mental illness and accessing mental health services. Through this project, school-community teams are trained to recognize the signs of youth who are having trouble, identify ways to intervene, and work with at-need students and their families to access appropriate services. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction continues to support Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings through their Wisconsin Safe and Healthy Schools Center, including the rollout of virtual trainings of trainers during the pandemic.