RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — While the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has had their hands full with tracking the impacts of COVID-19, they’ve also been keeping track of violent deaths.
Monday, the department launched its violent death reporting system database.
It focuses on violent deaths in all 100 counties from 2004 to 2019. The database collects numbers and information from law enforcement records, death certificates and records from the Chief Medical Examiner.
According to the dashboard, Wake County has the second-highest number of violent deaths from 2004-2019 with 1,850.
Of the numbers, 71 percent are suicide.
“I’m not surprised. I wish I could say that I was. Because I’m exposed to more people’s stories and I know what they are going through,” said Lynn Allen.
Allen is the interim executive director for HopeLine. It’s an organization based in Raleigh that gives people in crisis help.
“It’s no secret that suicide is definitely something on the rise and has been on the rise. We’re here to listen. We are here to help in any way we can. So, we really encourage people to call back and to call as many times as they need to,” she said.
Scott Proescholdbell, epidemiology, surveillance and informatics unit manager for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, helped track the numbers.
“There is only a handful of counties where homicides outnumber suicides. That’s true nationally as well,” he said.
Proescholdbell said with help from the CDC, it took a few years to put the dashboard together.
“We hope that it will be helpful for people and organizations and groups that might be working locally to address those concerns,” he said.
He said the database works to provide context by tracking trends and circumstances around violent deaths.
“We think those precipitating circumstances are really important intervention opportunities. So, we know in our state about 25 percent of people that end up dying by suicide tell someone before,” Proescholdbell explained.
He also mentioned that it takes time to collect the data, which is why for now, numbers for last year and this year are not available.
Database link – Workbook: NCVDRSDashboard (ncdhhs.gov)
HopeLine Link – Crisis Intervention | HopeLine (hopeline-nc.org)