According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 50,000 violent deaths each year in the United States. Until recently, there were no comprehensive data available to the public regarding these deaths. It was with this in mind that the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) was created, not only to provide statistics of reported violent deaths, but also to educate and possibly prevent more violent deaths from occurring.
The NVDRS currently covers 17 states, including Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina, and California, and 16 additional states have also expressed interest in participating. The states that use the data are able to identify prevention opportunities and can strategically plan and forge partnerships for prevention initiatives.
For example, the data in Mas- sachusetts are used to inform communities in outlying urban centers about trends in violent deaths. This allows the areas to plan and prepare, and at least 6 states have used the data to release comprehensive suicide prevention plans.
Some of the more alarming state-by-state statistics include those in South Carolina, where 57.4% of those who died by suicide visited a hospital or emergency department within 2 years before their death, averaging 3 visits. In New Jersey, the presence of a mental illness was high in persons who intentionally poisoned themselves (59.4%), while 20% of those with unintentional poisoning and 25% of those who died by suicide had a physical health problem. Thirty-seven percent of elderly suicide victims in Oregon had visited their doctor within 30 days of the act.
Among the publications that address issues raised by the NVDRS, the journal Injury Prevention recently published a supplement (December 2006; volume 12, suppl 2) on various states and their reported statistics; the articles can be viewed online at http://ip.bmj.com/content/ vol12/suppl_2/. More information about the NVDRS can be found through the CDC at www.cdc.gov/ncipc/profiles/nvdrs/default.htm.