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Working backwards: Arizona studying violent deaths to help save lives

PHOENIX — Arizona is now part of a system of 32 states tracking data on violent deaths with the goal of saving lives.

Arizona was recently selected by the Center for Disease Control to begin monitoring suicides and homicides in an effort to better understand how and why some of these violent deaths occur.

The Center for Violence Prevention and Community Service at Arizona State University will act as the state’s agent in collecting and correlating all the data on violent deaths in the state. That data will then be put into the National Violent Death Reporting System to track trends or demographics on homicides and suicides, said David Choate wit ASU.

“The (National) Violent Death Reporting System can identify maybe particular communities where that’s an issue and better fine tune where we spend resources,” Choate said.

Choate said the violent death information won’t only be used by the CDC but will also be used at local levels.

“While it’s on sort of this national system, part of the mission of the entire project is for states to put it to use on a local level,” he said. “Whether that’s statewide (or) whether that’s in a particular neighborhood within one city.”

Properly placing resources or implementing changes based off the data could help save some of these preventable deaths.

“A homicide is a deliberate act and every single one of them, we’re probably not going to get rid of all of them, but each of them are preventable,” he said. “Same with suicide.”

Choate said the center has a lot of work to do with more than 1,070 suicides and 358 murders happening in 2012 alone. He plans to gather data from several other years.

He expects the center to be reporting data to the CDC by March 2015.

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