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New NCDHHS data dashboard tracks trends in violent deaths in North Carolina to aid safety and prevention efforts

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released the North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System Data Dashboard , an interactive online dashboard that provides aggregate information on violent deaths for all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The NC-VDRS dashboard, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was created to make data more accessible to public health partners to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of prevention efforts around violence and safety.

NC-VDRS is a population-based, public health reporting system that captures anonymized information on deaths resulting from violence, including homicides, suicides and unintentional firearm deaths. NC-VDRS draws from three primary data sources: law enforcement records, death certificates and records from the NC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Collectively, these enable a broader understanding of “who, when, where and how,” and also “why” these deaths occurred.

“NCDHHS is committed to transparency and continuously improving our data systems to give North Carolinians insight into key public health measures,” said Kody H. Kinsley, chief deputy secretary for Health. “This information allows coordination across state, local, private and public partners to improve the whole person health and wellness of residents in our state.”

The new interactive data dashboard includes metrics on overall violent deaths, suicides, homicides and firearm-related deaths from 2004 through 2019. Violence, whether from assault or self-harm, takes the lives of more than five North Carolinians every day. In 2019, the most recent year where data is available, 2,184 North Carolinians died from violence.

Of those deaths, 1,356, or 62%, were due to suicide and 716, or 33%, were homicides. Additionally, 1,379, or 63%, violent deaths were firearm-related; firearms are the most common method of violent death followed by hanging, strangulation and suffocation.

“The state and county-level data in the dashboard provides a powerful tool for communities, researchers and public health practitioners to educate North Carolinians on the scope and scale of violent death in our state and implement prevention measures,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra, Chronic Disease and Injury Section chief and acting senior deputy director for the Division of Public Health. “The dashboard also enables communities to examine disparities by age, sex and race to better address the issue of violence among priority populations.”

Partnering with the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Office of Vital Records and local law enforcement agencies, NC-VDRS also produces an annual report, fact sheets and data for researchers and communities to better understand and address violence locally and statewide. These are available on the NC-VDRS website at injuryfreenc.ncdhhs.gov .

The Division of Public Health’s Chronic Disease and Injury Section, along with local health departments and other partners, works to reduce death and injury related to violence. For more information, visit www.publichealth.nc.gov/chronicdiseaseandinjury .

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