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Kansas to share suicide, homicide data with CDC

By Bryan Thompson | September 18, 2014

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has received a $970,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aimed at developing strategies to prevent violent deaths. The federal grant will allow Kansas to share homicide and suicide data with the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) for the next five years.

The reporting system delves into not just how these deaths happen, but why. It collects data on homicides, such as the relationship between the victim and the suspect. In cases of suicide, it gathers details on depression, financial stress and relationship problems.

Lori Haskett, who’s in charge of injury prevention at KDHE, said there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in Kansas in 2010.

“Suicide is a much larger issue. And when there is one suicide, it affects many more people than that one person — many family and friends," Haskett said. "If we can prevent some of the suicides, it can absolutely make a difference in Kansas."

There were more than 400 suicides in Kansas in 2010. According to Haskett, the suicide rate is four times greater among Kansas men than women. In fact, one of every 10 deaths among Kansas men younger than 45 is due to suicide.

NVDRS is the only data system for homicide that collects information from sources outside of law enforcement. Using this data, public health practitioners and violence prevention professionals hope to develop tailored prevention and intervention efforts to reduce the number of violent deaths.

“To stop violent deaths, we must first understand all the facts,” Haskett said. “NVDRS will provide a more complete picture of certain types of deaths in Kansas. Knowing the circumstances of violent deaths will help identify the right prevention efforts and put them in place.”

Kansas is being added to the NVDRS as part of CDC’s expansion of the system from 18 to 32 participating states. According to the CDC, the larger number of states will enable greater collection of critical data on violent deaths.

“More than 55,000 Americans died because of homicide or suicide in 2011 — that’s an average of more than six people dying a violent death every hour,” said Daniel M. Sosin, acting director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “We know many of these deaths can be prevented. Participating states will be better able to use state-level data to develop, implement and evaluate prevention and intervention efforts to stop violent deaths.”

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