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Indicator 1: Violent Deaths at School and Away From School
(Last Updated: March 2018)

Between 1992–93 and 2014–15, 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 Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS), as well as data on total suicides collected through the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System Fatal and data on total homicides collected through the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR). The SAVD-SS defines a school-associated violent death as "a homicide, suicide, or legal intervention death20 (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 also 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 may include not only students and staff members, but also others at school,21 such as students' parents and community members.

The most recent data released by the SAVD-SS cover the period from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. During this period, there were a total of 47 student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths in the United States, which included 28 homicides, 17 suicides, and 2 legal intervention deaths22 (figure 1.1 and table 1.1). Of these 47 school-associated violent deaths, 20 homicides and 9 suicides were of school-age youth (ages 5–18; also referred to as "youth" in this indicator). When instances of homicide and suicide of school-age youth at school were combined, there was approximately 1 student homicide or suicide at school for every 1.9 million students enrolled.23


Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2014–15

Figure 1.1. Number of student, staff, and other nonstudent school-associated violent deaths, and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18 at school: School years 1992–93 to 2014–15

1 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until law enforcement reports have been obtained and 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 death (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, 2015.
NOTE: "At school" includes on the property of a functioning primary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. In this indicator, the term "at school" is comparable in meaning to the term "school-associated."
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1992–2015 School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), unpublished tabulation (June 2017).


Data on total violent deaths, consisting of those occurring at school and away from school, were included as a point of comparison for violent deaths occurring at school. The most recent data available for total suicides of school-age youth are for the 2014 calendar year; the most recent data available for total homicides of youth are for the 2014–15 school year.24 During the 2014–15 school year, there were 1,168 youth homicides in the United States (figure 1.2 and table 1.1). During the 2014 calendar year, there were 1,785 youth suicides.


Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: 2014–15

Figure 1.2. Percentage distribution and number of homicides and suicides of youth ages 5–18, by location: 2014–15

1 Youth ages 5–18 from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.
2 Data from the School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) 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 2014 calendar year.
4 Because data reported on total youth suicides are for calendar year 2014, numbers for total suicides and suicides occurring away from school during school year 2014–15 are approximate. Use caution when interpreting these numbers due to timeline differences.
NOTE: "At school" includes on the property of a functioning primary or secondary school, 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), 2015 School-Associated Violent Death Surveillance System (SAVD-SS) (partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students), unpublished tabulation (June 2017); 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), 2014, retrieved June 2017 from http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html; and data on total homicides of youth ages 5–18 for the 2014–15 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 (September 2017).


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 2014–15, even though the absolute number of homicides of school-age youth at school varied across the years.25 Between 1992–93 and 2014–15, 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.


This indicator has been updated to include 2014–15 data for school-associated violent deaths and total homicides among youth in the United States, and 2014 data for total suicides among youth in the United States. For more information: Table 1.1, and http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/schoolviolence/SAVD.html.


20 A legal intervention death is defined as a death caused by a law enforcement agent in the course of arresting or attempting to arrest a lawbreaker, suppressing a disturbance, maintaining order, or engaging in another legal action.
21 "At school" includes on the property of a functioning primary or secondary school, on the way to or from regular sessions at school, and while attending or traveling to or from a school-sponsored event. In this indicator, the term "at school" is comparable in meaning to the term "school-associated."
22 Data from 1999–2000 onward are subject to change until law enforcement reports have been obtained and 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.
23 The total number of students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade during the 2014–15 school year was 55,635,322 (see table 105.30 in Snyder and Dillow 2018).
24 Data on total suicides are from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System Fatal and data on total homicides are from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program 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.
25 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.