Utah Violent Death Reporting System

Violent deaths represent a serious public health problem. Violent deaths include:

  • Homicides
  • Suicides
  • Deaths of undetermined intent
  • Unintentional firearm-related deaths
  • Deaths due to legal intervention (i.e., fatal injuries inflicted by the police or other law-enforcing agents)

In direct response to this concern, Utah became one of 18 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2004 (data collection began in 2005). NVDRS is a state-based surveillance system established in 2002 to collect and link data on violent deaths. Currently, 18 states – including Utah – participate in NVDRS and report data to CDC. The ultimate goal is to expand participation to all states and territories.

The Utah Violent Death Reporting System (UTVDRS) is surveillance system that collects detailed facts from different sources about the same incident. This information is collected from:

  • Death certificates
  • Medical examiner records
  • Police reports
  • Crime lab records
  • Supplemental homicide reports

Number of occurrent* deaths in the Utah Violent Death Reporting System by manner of death and year, Utah 2005-2012†

Manner of Death
Suicide 351 365 381 396 459 478 524 563
Homicide 65 59 85 62 63 59 73 54
Undetermined 382 422 447 331 297 219 231 266
Accident‡ 86 74 123 190 207 237 208 345
*Occurrent deaths include all individuals who died in Utah, whether or not they were a resident of Utah. †Data updated as of 7/18/2013. Note: 2011 and 2012 data are preliminary. ‡Drug overdose death with accident as the manner of death.

(Print copy of the above table, including trendline graph)

By linking data on violent deaths from multiple sources, the NVDRS gives states and communities a more complete picture of these deaths, including details about victims and suspects, their relationships, important circumstances that contributed to a death, and weapons used. Trends and risk factors identified through the linked data can be used to guide violence prevention efforts and improve policies.

Web-based Conversion

Currently violent death data is entered into a Utah supported server where it is de-identified. The data is “pushed” daily to the national database which is maintained and supported by the CDC.  While this has been adequate with the limited number of states involved in the surveillance system, with the goal of expansion to all states and territories, the National Violent Death Reporting Sytem is migrating to a centralized, web-based system, where a single set of databases will be maintained by the CDC and accessed by funded states and their partners (e.g. Medical examiners, law enforcement) via Internet Browser. The benefits to a web-based system include:

  1. Improvement in data consistency, timeliness, and reliability
  2. Significant decrease in maintenance burden
  3. Improvement in scalability 

Utah will serve as pilot state to test the web-based system. The anticipated data of migration to the web-based system is April 2013. 

Awards and Recognitions

Utah won the “Excellence in Collecting the Most Timely and Complete Violent Death Data” for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. States that participate in the NVDRS were measured against three criteria for the award:

  1. All violent death incidents initiated within 6 months of the date of death. The CDC calculates this measure by subtracting the date of death from the date of incident initiation.
  2. All medical examiner detail loaded within 18 months of the end of the calendar year. The CDC calculates this measure using the percent of incidents having a medical examiner report loaded within 18 months of the calendar year.
  3. All police report incident detail loaded within 18 months of the end of the calendar year. The CDC calculates this measure using the percent of incidents having a police report loaded within 18 months of the calendar year.

Utah was also honored with the prestigious Innovative Initiative of the Year award from the Safe States Alliance for integrating accidental drug overdose deaths into the Utah Violent Death Reporting System. The award is presented to a Safe States member who has implemented a unique and creative program or activity that has the potential to substantially decrease injuries and violence in the communities that they serve.

In 2010, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in recognition of the societal impacts of violence, declared support for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).  NVDRS aligns with IACP's mission to promote officer, citizen, and community safety by providing a more comprehensive picture of violent deaths, which may be used to inform and improve prevention efforts.  In declaring support, the IACP resolved to promote agency awareness of and participation in NVDRS.