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National Violent Death Reporting System: Suicide More Prevalent Than Homicide

Suicides accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent deaths in 17 states that participated in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2013, according to a new government report.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 66.2 percent of the 19,251 violent deaths studied were caused by suicide. In comparison, 23.2 percent of the violent deaths were homicides. The overall collective suicide rate among the 17 states in 2013 was 13.3 per 100,000 population. The suicide rate in Alaska in 2013 was 23.4 per 100,000 population, according to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics.   
 
The CDC first began collecting data for the NVDRS in 2003 from seven states, including Alaska, to monitor the occurrence of violent deaths and help develop, implement, and evaluate programs and policies to reduce and prevent violent deaths. By 2013 there were 17 states gathering statistics on violent deaths to be studied collectively, including Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The CDC’s goal is to get all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C. to eventually participate in NVDRS data collection.
 
The new report reinforces some previously known information about deaths by suicide, while also providing a more comprehensive overview than most studies offer. Of the 17 states studied, men died by suicide nearly four times the rate of women, with 21.0 and 5.9 deaths per 100,000 population respectively. Rates among males were highest for men 85 years of age and older, with a rate of 45.5 per 100,000 population. The rate among females between the ages of 45 and 54 was the highest among women, with 10.3 deaths by suicide per 100,000 population.
 
The new report indicates that American Indian/Alaska Natives and non-Hispanic whites had the highest rates of suicide of any ethnicity, with 18.7 and 16.4 per 100,000 population respectively. The rate of Alaska Natives in 2013 in Alaska alone was much higher, with 46.9 per 100,000 population, according to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics.      
 
According to the report, firearms were the most common means used, causing 51.4 percent of all deaths by suicide. Hanging/strangulation/suffocation was the next most common means at 24.5 percent, with poisoning the next most common means at 15.5 percent.
 
One thing unique about the NVDRS study is that it looks at the “precipitating circumstances” of the deaths by suicide in nearly 90 percent of the cases. In those cases where precipitating circumstances were analyzed, researchers found that that 46.2 percent of the deceased had a diagnosed mental health problem at the time of their death. Also, 34.8 percent of them left a suicide note, 32.4 percent had a history of suicidal thoughts or plans, 19.7 percent had a history of previous suicide attempts, and 25.7 percent had disclosed suicidal ideation to another person.
    
The NVDRS provides the CDC with one of the most in-depth studies on violent deaths and allows them to better understand the common variables that lead to violent deaths such as suicides and homicides. The four goals of the NVDRS are:
·         Collect and analyze timely, high-quality data for monitoring the magnitude and characteristics of violent deaths at national, state, and local levels;
·          Ensure data are disseminated routinely and expeditiously to public health officials, law enforcement officials, policymakers, and the public;
·         Ensure data are used to develop, implement, and evaluate programs and strategies that are intended to reduce and prevent violent deaths and injuries at national, state, and local levels; and
·         Build and strengthen partnerships among organizations and communities at national, state, and local levels to ensure that data are collected and used to reduce and prevent violent deaths and injuries.
 
For more information on the study, titled “Surveillance for Violent Deaths – National Violent Death Reporting System, 17 States, 2013,” visit: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6510a1.htm?s_cid=ss6510a1_e