The COVID-19 pandemic got the State of North Carolina focused on putting out disease information to the public through a daily, easy to understand, “Dashboard”-style presentation of new data.

Now the state is using the same type of tool to provide constantly updated information on violent deaths.

On Monday, Nov. 1, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) introduced the new gloomily named “North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System Data Dashboard,” which will also be known as the “NC-VDRS Dashboard.”

 It’s an interactive online dashboard that provides detailed and summary information on violent deaths for all 100 counties in the state. The dashboard, which is being funded by money from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was created to “make data more accessible to public health partners to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of prevention efforts around violence and safety.”

The database with the dashboard interface will be a population-based, public health reporting system that reveals “anonymized information on deaths resulting from violence, including homicides, suicides and unintentional firearm deaths.”

 The information included will be collected from three main sources: law enforcement records, death certificates and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Together, that information should help the public understand “who, when, where and how,” and also “why” these deaths are occurring.

NC Chief Deputy Secretary for Health Kody H. Kinsley said this new tool should help communities address issues that lead to violent deaths.

“NCDHHS is committed to transparency and continuously improving our data systems to give North Carolinians insight into key public health measures,” Kinsley said. “This information allows coordination across state, local, private and public partners to improve the whole person health and wellness of residents in our state.”

The new dashboard includes stats on overall violent deaths, suicides, homicides and firearm-related deaths from 2004 through 2019.

According to state health officials, violent actions take the lives of more than five state residents every day. In 2019 – the most recent year for which complete data is available – 2,184 North Carolinians died from violence.

Of those deaths,1,356  were suicides and 716 were homicides.

Death by firearm is the most common type of violent death in North Carolina.  That’s followed by hanging, strangulation and suffocation.