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Indicator 1: Violent Deaths at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: May 2016)

Over all available survey years, the percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 3 percent of the total number of youth homicides, and the percentage of youth suicides occurring at school remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides.

Violent deaths at schools are rare but tragic events with far-reaching effects on the school population and surrounding community. This indicator presents data on school-associated violent deaths that were collected through the School-Associated Violent Deaths (SAVD) Surveillance System, as well as data on total suicides collected through the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System Fatal (WISQARS™ Fatal) and data on total homicides collected through the Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR). The SAVD Surveillance System defines a school-associated violent death as "a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention death11 (involving a law enforcement officer), in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States." School-associated violent deaths include those that occurred while the victim was on the way to or returning from regular sessions at school or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims of school-associated violent deaths include not only students and staff members, but also others who are not students or staff members, such as students' parents or community members.

The most recent data released by the SAVD Surveillance System cover the period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013. During this period, there were a total of 53 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). Of these 53 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, there were 41 homicides, 11 suicides, and 1 legal intervention death.12

Data on violent deaths occurring away from school were included in order to calculate the percentage of violent deaths occurring at school. The most recent data available for total suicides of school-age youth (ages 5-18; also referred to as "youth" in this indicator) are for the 2012 calendar year; the most recent data available for total homicides of youth are for the 2012–13 school year.13 During the 2012–13 school year, there were 1,186 homicides of youth in the United States (figure 1.2 and table 1.1). During the 2012 calendar year, there were 1,590 suicides of youth. During the 2012–13 school year, there were 31 homicides and 6 suicides of school-age youth at school (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). When instances of homicide and suicide of school-age youth at school were combined, there was approximately 1 homicide or suicide at school for every 1.5 million students enrolled.14

The percentage of youth homicides occurring at school remained at less than 3 percent of the total number of youth homicides between 1992–93 (when data collection began) and 2012–13, even though the absolute number of homicides of school-age youth at school varied across the years15 (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). Between 1992–93 and 2012–13, a range of 1 to 10 school-age youth died by suicide at school each year, with no consistent pattern of increase or decrease in the number of suicides. The percentage of youth suicides occurring at school remained at less than 1 percent of the total number of youth suicides over all available survey years.


Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2012–13

Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2012–13

1 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, please see appendix A.
2 A school-associated violent death is defined as "a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention (involving a law enforcement officer), in which the fatal injury occurred on the campus of a functioning elementary or secondary school in the United States," while the victim was on the way to or from regular sessions at school, or while the victim was attending or traveling to or from an official school-sponsored event. Victims include students, staff members, and others who are not students or staff members, from July 1, 1992, through June 30, 2013.
NOTE: "At school" includes on school property, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. Estimates were revised and may differ from previously published data.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1992–2013 School-Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study (SAVD) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), previously unpublished tabulation (September 2015).


Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: 2012–13

Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: 2012–13

1 Youth ages 5-18 from July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013.
2 Data from the School-Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study (SAVD) are subject to change until interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, please see appendix A.
3 Youth ages 5-18 in the 2012 calendar year.
4 Because data reported on total youth suicides are for calendar year 2012, numbers for total suicides and suicides occurring away from school during school year 2012–13 is approximate. Use caution when interpreting these numbers due to timeline differences. NOTE: "At school" includes on school property, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. SOURCE: Data on homicides and suicides of youth ages 5-18 at school are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2013 School-Associated Violent Deaths Surveillance Study (SAVD) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), previously unpublished tabulation (September 2015); data on total suicides of youth ages 5-18 are from the CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System Fatal (WISQARS™ Fatal), 2012, retrieved September 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html; and data on total homicides of youth ages 5-18 for the 2012–13 school year are from the Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tabulated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, preliminary data (November 2015).

This indicator has been updated to include 2012–13 data for school-associated violent deaths and total youth homicides, and 2012 data for total youth suicides. For more information: Table 1.1, and http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/SAVD.html.

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11 A legal intervention death is defined as a death caused by police and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force, excluding legal executions.
12 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until interviews with school and law enforcement officials have been completed. The details learned during the interviews can occasionally change the classification of a case. For more information on this survey, please see appendix A.
13 Data on total suicides are from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System Fatal (WISQARS™ Fatal) and data on total homicides are from the Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR). Data on total suicides are available only by calendar year, whereas data on suicides and homicides at school and data on total homicides are available by school year. Due to these differences in reference periods, please use caution when comparing total suicides to other categories.
14 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 2012–13 school year was 54,952,269 (Snyder and Dillow 2016).
15 Single incidents occurring at school with a large number of school-age victims could result in large variations in the number of homicides of school-age youth at school between two years. Please use caution when making comparisons over time.