Story last updated at 2/27/2013 - 2:33 pm
A new study released recently by the Division of Public Health shows the rates of violence-related deaths involving homicide and suicide in the state of Alaska have decreased 11 percent and 2 percent, respectively, over the 2007 to 2011 reporting period. This is compared to the 2004 to 2008 reporting period. Public health experts say this drop is the result of an increase in violence prevention and other mental health programs supported by the Division of Public Health.
While homicide and suicide rates are down, the new report indicates a 5 percent rise in the overall average of violent deaths in the state. This is primarily due to increased incidents of undetermined intent, including sudden unexplained infant death or other circumstances where a cause of death could not be explained.
Alaska is one of 18 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System. The Alaska Violent Death Reporting System, a state-based surveillance system, creates an anonymous, centralized database of information from various sources about each violent death incident and suicide with death certificates, police reports and medical examiner reports.
"These studies are used to paint a clearer picture of the circumstances that led to each incident, with the goal of better evaluating community needs," said Deborah Hull-Jilly, program manager at the Division of Public Health's Section of Epidemiology, Injury Surveillance Program. "Suicide prevention efforts especially have been a big focus in recent years, and we consider the latest rates to be a positive reflection of how these programs aid future prevention efforts as well as program and policy creation."