Definitions - Violent Death Module

Definitions provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program.

Blunt instrument:
A mechanism of death resulting from being struck or crushed by blunt instruments such as a club or bat.
County of Injury vs. County of Residence:
County of injury refers to the county where the victim was injured, and county of residence refers to the county where the victim lives. All cases included in the module reflect deaths that occurred in Wisconsin.
Drowning:
A mechanism of death resulting from submersion in water or other liquid.
Fall:
A mechanism of death resulting from a fall, push, or jump from a high place.
Firearm:
A device that launches a projectile through a tube using energy from a spark or flame to ignite a powder charge. Definition includes handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and excludes BB guns, pellet guns, or air rifles.
Homicide:
Death resulting from the intentional use of force or power, threatened or actual, against another person, group, or community.
Legal intervention:
A death when the decedent was killed by a police officer or other peace officer (persons with specified legal authority to use deadly force), including military police, acting in the line of duty.
Mortality Rate:
The mortality rate is calculated by dividing the number of deaths per year by the population. It is usually expressed as the number of deaths per 100,000 population. The rate may refer to deaths in a specific group, or to deaths from a specific cause, or to all deaths in the entire population. The rate may be adjusted for the age composition of the group or it may be the observed (or "crude") rate.
Motor vehicle:
Deaths involving any motorized vehicle.
Personal Weapons:
Personal weapons include fists, feet, and hands.
Rate:
The number of people experiencing an event such as death, disease, or injury, divided by the number of people at risk for the event, for some specified period of time. Rates are often expressed in terms of a unit of population (usually per 100,000).
Rates by Race/Ethnicity:
The population estimates used as denominators for the mortality rates in WISH are based on the bridged race estimates provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The estimates have been controlled so they sum to the annual estimates published by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Office of Health Informatics. Producing the bridged race estimates was necessary because race categories in Census 2000 differed from those used in previous years. Specifically, data on race from Census 2000 were not directly comparable to data from previous years due, in large part, to giving respondents the option to report more than one race. As a result, NCHS and the Census Bureau produced bridged race estimates that allow calculation of rates by race/ethnicity across years. These estimates distribute (or "bridge") the "more than one race" and "some other race" populations into one of four major race groups (American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, and White) and two ethnicity groups (Hispanic/Latino, non-Hispanic/Latino). NCHS and the Census Bureau have produced this set of bridged race estimates extending back to the 1990 Census, and plan to produce these estimates on an annual basis in the future. WISH will be updated each year as these estimates become available.
Reliability of rates:
Some rates in this report are based on a small number of deaths (<20). Chance variation is a common problem when the numbers being used to calculate rates are extremely small. From year to year, large swings can occur in these rates, which do not reflect real changes. Rates based on small numbers (<20) may be unstable due to random chance factors and should be used with caution.
Sharp instrument:
A mechanism of death resulting from a cut and/or piercing from instruments such as knives, razors, chisels, or broken glass.
Suffocation:
A mechanism of death resulting from suffocation such as hanging or strangulation.
Suicide:
A death resulting from the intentional use of force against oneself.
Suspect:
Person(s) identified in law enforcement records as having a potential role in the commission of a homicide or an unintentional or of undetermined intent firearm-related death.
Undetermined manner of death:
Information available to investigating authorities is insufficient to determine the manner of death.
Unintentional firearm injury:
An injury by firearm that is deemed to have occurred without criminal negligence, recklessness, or other intent to harm.
Victim:
Person(s) fatally injured during a homicide, a suicide, an unintentional firearm incident, or an incident of undetermined intent.
Violent death/injury:
Suicide (taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally), homicide (the killing of one person by another which may or may not be intentional, reckless, or negligent), deaths of undetermined intent, deaths resulting from legal intervention, and deaths related to unintentional firearm injuries. (List of ICD-10 codes)
Weapon type:
The weapon type indicates the broad category of weapon or means used to inflict the injury.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Public Health Regions:
(These regions include the following counties. Regional titles are BOLD CAPPED. Urban counties are bold italic.)
WESTERN
Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Trempealeau, and Washburn
SOUTHERN
Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Juneau, Lafayette, Richland, Vernon, Rock, and Sauk
SOUTHEASTERN
Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha
NORTHEASTERN
Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Sheboygan, Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago
NORTHERN
Ashland, Bayfield, Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Price, Portage, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas, and Wood

Circumstances Applicable to ALL Violent Deaths

Alcohol problem:
The victim was identified as having an alcohol dependence or alcohol problem.
Argument:
A specific argument or conflict led to the victim's death. (Note: Before 2012, this variable was not coded when "intimate partner violence" or "jealousy" were coded as "yes.")
Crisis in past two weeks or upcoming two weeks:
The victim experienced a crisis within two weeks of the incident, or a crisis was imminent within two weeks of the incident.
Current depressed mood:
The victim was perceived by self or others to be depressed or have a current depressed mood at the time of the injury.
Current mental health problem:
The victim was identified as currently having a diagnosed mental health problem.
Current treatment for mental health problem:
The victim was currently in treatment for a mental health problem or substance abuse problem.
Ever treated for mental health problem:
The victim had a history of ever being treated for a mental health or substance abuse problem.
Family relationship problem:
The victim had relationship problems with a family member (other than an intimate partner) that appear to have contributed to the death. (Note: This variable was added in 2012 and replaced a variable called "family stressor." Before 2012, family relationship problems were captured in the variable for "other" relationship problems.)
History of abuse or neglect as a child:
The victim had a history of abuse (physical, sexual, or psychological) or neglect (physical, including medical/dental, emotional, or educational neglect; or exposure to violent environments or inadequate supervision) as a child. (Note: Before 2012, this variable was used to collect deaths related to abuse and deaths related to intimate partner violence that had a history of abuse. As of 2012, this variable captures any history of abuse as a child outside the fatal incident.)
Other relationship problem:
Problems with a friend or associate (other than an intimate partner or family member) appear to have contributed to the death. (Note: Before 2012, this included any relationship except intimate partners. After 2012, this includes any relationship except intimate partner or family relationships.)
Other substance problem:
The victim had a non-alcohol-related substance abuse problem.
Precipitated by another crime:
The death was precipitated by the victim engaging in another serious (felony-related) crime (e.g., drug dealing, robbery).
First crime in progress:
The precipitating crime was in progress at the time of the incident.
Previous perpetrator of violence in the past month:
The victim was a perpetrator of violence within the past month that was distinct and occurred before the violence that killed the victim.
Previous victim of violence in the past month:
The victim experienced violence in the past month that was distinct and occurred before the violence that killed the victim.

Circumstances Applicable to SUICIDES/UNDETERMINED ONLY

Civil legal problems:
Civil legal (non-criminal) problems appear to have contributed to the death.
Eviction or loss of housing:
A recent eviction or other loss of the victim's housing, or the threat of it, appears to have contributed to the death.
Financial problem:
Financial problems appear to have contributed to the death.
History of suicide attempts:
Victim had a history of attempting suicide before the fatal incident.
History of suicidal thoughts or plans:
Victim had a history of suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts. Disclosure of suicidal thoughts or plan can be verbal, written, or electronic. (Note: This variable was added in 2012.)
Intimate partner problem:
Problems with a current or former intimate partner appear to have contributed to the suicide or undetermined death.
Job problem:
Job problem(s) appear to have contributed to the death.
Left a suicide note:
Victim left a suicide note (or other recorded communication). Note can be written or electronic.
Other death of friend or family:
Death of a family member or friend due to something other than suicide appears to have contributed to the death. (Note: Before 2012, this variable was only coded when the death of a friend or family member occurred within five years of the victim's death. Beginning in 2012, there is no time limit as long as the death was perceived as contributing to the suicide.)
Physical health problem:
Victim's physical health problem(s) appear to have contributed to the death.
Recent criminal legal problem:
Criminal legal problems appear to have contributed to the death.
Recently disclosed suicidal thoughts or intent to commit suicide:
Victim disclosed to another person their thoughts and/or plans to commit suicide within the last month. Disclosure of suicidal thoughts or plan can be verbal, written, or electronic.
School problem:
Problems at or related to school appear to have contributed to the death.
Suicide of friend or family contributed to death:
Suicide of a family member or friend appears to have contributed to the death. (Note: Before 2012, this variable was only coded when the suicide of a friend or family member occurred within five years of the victim's death. Beginning in 2012, there is no time limit as long as the death was perceived as contributing to the suicide.)

Circumstances Applicable to HOMICIDES/LEGAL INTERVENTION ONLY

Drug involvement:
Drug dealing, drug trade, or drug use is suspected to have played a role in precipitating the incident.
Intimate partner violence related:
The death was related to immediate or ongoing conflict or violence between current or former intimate partners.
Jealousy:
Jealousy or distress over a current or former intimate partner's relationship or suspected relationship with another person led to the incident.
Victim used weapon:
The victim used a weapon during the course of the incident (including brandishing/threatening to use).
Last Revised: November 25, 2016