Data and Surveillance 2.0 Task Force


Private Sector: Cindy Claassen, PhD, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, University of Texas Health Sciences Center Public Sector: Kristin Holland, Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal, Objectives, and Action Steps

Goal: Identify and prioritize actionable areas of focus (objectives), building on recommendations from Improving National Data Systems for Surveillance of Suicide-related Events and the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention’s strategic direction to improve suicide prevention surveillance collection, research, and evaluation.  These activities specifically relate to: Goal 11 (Increase the timeliness and usefulness of national surveillance systems relevant to suicide prevention and improve the ability to collect, analyze, and use this information for action) and specifically Objective 11.1 (Improve the timeliness of reporting vital records data).

Objectives and action steps: Three prioritized proposed objectives were identified and are listed below in order of priority.  For the next year, the task force expects to focus on objective 1; should resources permit and/or unusually promising opportunities arise during this year, the task force will consider engaging in activities related to the other two objectives.

1. Improve the timeliness of suicide death dataTimeline:  June 2014 – June 2015

In collaboration with appropriate partners (NAPHSIS, NCHS, NAHDO, NAME, NCIPC), engage a contractor to apply LEAN methodology to:

  • Describe the processes of death certificate registration, death certificate submission by states to NCHS, data cleaning and creation of a national data set.
  • Identify redundancies in the process that could be streamlined.
  • Identify bottlenecks in the process, estimate the time lost because of them, and make actionable recommendations about how to relieve them.

2. Improve the quality of data available on suicidesTimeline: September 2014 – June 2015

In collaboration with appropriate partners (NAPHSIS, NAME, NVDRS, NCHS):

  • Describe in detail the specific gaps and data quality issues:

(1)  Some of this information may come through the Lean process

(2)  Information summarized by partner groups can be used to inform this.

  • Understand why those gaps and data quality issues exist.
  • Make recommendations about how to fill in those gaps and address those data quality issues.

The task force will begin by reviewing information from Improving National Data Systems for Surveillance of Suicide-related Events, and identify additional gaps and data quality issues that need to be understood. 

3. Create a strategy to develop a surveillance system on suicide attemptsTimeline: To follow the above activities; however, if resources to support those activities are not available, the task force will begin work on this activity. 

Create a blueprint for a national surveillance system on suicide attempts, including:

  • Data elements to be included in the system
  • A description of how the data would be obtained (e.g. reporting, mining of administrative data, mining of electronic medical records, etc.)
  • A description of a structure for creating and maintaining the system and a process for implementation of the system
  • An estimate of the cost of creating and maintaining the system.


  • Robert Bossarte, PhD, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, Canandaigua(NY) VA Medical, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Alex Crosby, MD, MPH, Medical Epidemiologist, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, MSN, consultant
  • Randy Hanzlick, MD, Fulton County (GA) Medical Examiner
  • Holly Hedegaard, MD, MSPH, Senior Service Fellow, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC, HHS
  • Melvin Kohn, MD, MPH, Director, Adult Immunizations, Merck Pharmaceuticals
  • Trish Potrzebowski, PhD, Executive Director, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS)
  • Scott K. Proescholdbell, MPH, Head, Injury Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch, Chronic Disease and Injury Section, Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Patricia Smith, MS, RD, Violence Prevention Program Coordinator, Michigan Department of Health
  • Margaret Warner, PhD, Injury Epidemiologist, NCHS, CDC, HHS

Additional potential task force members will be identified through the LEAN process as we identify stakeholders who have not been included in the task force.