Violent Death Reporting

Violent death is a major health problem across the United States and Montana is not immune to this epidemic. Unfortunately, Montana remains one of the leading states in the nation for suicide and has been near the top of that list for nearly four decades. As of 2019, the CDC reported Montana has the second highest rate in the nation for firearm related suicides, right behind Wyoming, and has the highest rate in that nation for firearm related deaths. (this is calculated by rate based on population, not total counts). Violence related deaths harm families, friends, and communities. Despite coordinated work to stop these deaths, local data on risk factors is needed to target interventions.

The Montana Violent Death Reporting System (MTVDRS) was established in 2019 to aid in collecting information to help prevent violence in Montana. It is a state-based data collection system which links de-identified information about the who, when, where, and how from data on violent deaths and provides insights to the why. MTVDRS is funded through the National Violent Death Reporting System that was established in 2002 and is now collecting information from all 50 states.

These violent deaths include homicides, suicides, unintentional firearm deaths, legal intervention, and deaths by undetermined intent. All data from these deaths is obtained from death certificates, coroner and medical examiner reports, law enforcement reports, and toxicology reports. The information is entered into a de-identified CDC sponsored and secure database. This data can be used to inform decision makers and program staff about the trends and characteristics of violent deaths, educate communities about circumstances that contribute to these deaths, develop violence prevention efforts, and evaluate the impact of prevention strategies in Montana.

We are able to do this through valuable partnerships with law enforcement, coroners, Montana Department of Justice, the state crime lab, and communities to gain access to this important information. MTVDRS has established a statewide Death Case Management System that is offered for no cost to all coroner agencies in Montana. This provides an electronic system for all investigative information to be entered and securely stored. The system allows for direct communication between the investigating coroner and state medical examiners to request autopsy and aid in investigating the death. Furthermore, an Executive Order was signed in 2019 designating MTVDRS a Criminal Justice Information Recipient allowing our program access to this important information. All information we collect is de-identified and entered into a secure electronic database for future statistical analysis.

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If you are interested in requesting data from MTVDRS please see these resources:

VACANT, Program Coordinator


Lauren Marshman, Forensic Data Abstractor

Alyssa Johnson, Principal Investigator