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Maine AG’s Office receives federal funding to analyze violent deaths
October 21, 2014
(AUGUSTA) Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills announced that the State of Maine has received funding from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to gather critical data on violent deaths in Maine using the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) over the next five years. Among other things, this grant will allow the state to gather detailed information about the relationship between domestic abuse, homicide and suicide.
The data collected will supplement the work of groups like the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel which examines domestic abuse homicides in order to understand how such tragedies can be prevented. After more than a decade of work, the panel’s observations have led to policy changes aimed at saving lives.
“The Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel observed that very often a homicide occurred when a woman went back to the shared home to retrieve belongings after a breakup,” said Attorney General Mills. “That small piece of data has led to better safety planning and has saved lives. Knowing the circumstances of violent deaths will help identify the very best prevention efforts. I am particularly interested in looking at domestic violence and its effect on the suicides that are not a part of a murder/suicide incident. This grant will allow us to examine the details of all violent deaths in a manner not previously possible.”
NVDRS helps state and local officials understand when and how violent deaths occur by linking data from law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners, vital statistics, and crime laboratories. Using this data, public health practitioners and violence prevention professionals can develop tailored intervention efforts to reduce the incidence of violent deaths.
NVDRS provides details on demographics (age, income, education), method of injury, the relationship between the victim and an offender and information about circumstances such as depression, financial stressors, or relationship problems. It is the only data system for homicide that collects information from sources outside of law enforcement and that has the capacity to link hospital and other health records.
Maine’s effort will be spearheaded by Dr. Margaret Greenwald, recently retired Chief Medical Examiner, and Dr. Marcella Sorg of the University of Maine. Dr. Greenwald and Dr. Sorg have previously collaborated to analyze statistics on drug deaths. Their work on drug deaths is nationally recognized and has provided important information to guide drug policy decisions here in Maine. Under the new grant Maine will receive $194,347 each year for five years for data collection and analysis and will compare its data with similar information from the State of Vermont.
For additional information about NVDRS, see www.cdc.gov/violencePrevention/NVDRS/index.html.