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Number of deaths due to homicide per 100,000 population. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2015-2021 for this measure.

Homicide rates are valuable to report because they provide specificity to violent crime and are often referenced as an indicator of public safety. High levels of neighborhood violent crime are negatively associated with health behaviors, and physical and mental health in neighborhood residents.1,2

Find strategies to address Homicides*

Data and methods

Data Source

National Center for Health Statistics - Mortality Files; Census Population Estimates Program

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) provides birth and death data drawn from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS). These data are submitted to the NVSS by the vital registration systems operated in the jurisdictions legally responsible for registering vital events (i.e., births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and fetal deaths). 

The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) uses data on births, deaths, and migration to estimate population changes occurring since the most recent decennial census and produce a vintage, or annual time series of estimates. Each vintage includes the current data year and revised estimates for any earlier years since the last decennial census. Because each vintage of estimates includes all years since the most recent decennial census, the latest vintage supersedes all other estimates produced since the previous decennial census. See the Population Estimates Program methodology for statements and release notes for each vintage of population estimates.

Key Measure Methods

Homicides is a rate

Homicides is the number of deaths from assaults per 100,000 population. Rates measure the number of events (e.g., deaths, births) in a given time period divided by the average number of people at risk during that period. Rates help us compare data across counties with different population sizes.

Deaths are counted in the county of residence for the person who died, rather than the county where the death occurred

It is important to note that deaths are counted in the county of residence of the deceased. So, even if a homicide occurred across the state, the death is counted in the home county of the individual who died.

Some data are suppressed

A missing value is reported for counties with fewer than 10 homicide deaths in the time period.

The method for calculating Homicides has changed

In the 2024 Annual Data Release, data from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program were used in the calculation of the denominator for this measure. In previous data releases, the denominator was calculated from the National Center for Health Statistics Bridged-Race Population Estimates; this data series was discontinued in 2023. The denominator change and updates to race categories in the 2024 Annual Data Release mean that comparisons with previous years should be made with caution. 

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across years

Caution should be used when comparing across years due to methods changes described in the “The method for calculating Homicides has changed” section.


The numerator is the number of deaths in a county over the 7-year period due to homicide as defined by ICD-10 codes X85-Y09 (assault).


The denominator is the aggregate county population over the 7-year period.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to measure progress with some caveats. It is important to note that the estimate provided in the Health Snapshots is a seven-year average. However, in most counties, it is relatively simple to obtain single-year estimates from the resource below. Homicide data can also be further broken down by year and method of assault. These breakdowns could help measure the impact of interventions specific to homicide prevention.

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race

We recommend starting with the CDC WONDER database, which contains information on homicide rates by race, ethnicity, age, gender, geography, and more. Rates can be exported as crude  or age-adjusted. Small counties might need to combine multiple years of data to see rates, as CDC suppresses any rates when there are fewer than 10 deaths. 


1 Ellen IG , Mijanovich T, Dillman KN. Neighborhood effects on health: Exploring the links and assessing the evidence. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2001;23:391-408.

2 University of Minnesota. 8.2. Types of Crime. In Social Problems: Continuity and Change. 2016. https://open.lib.umn.edu/socialproblems/chapter/8-2-types-of-crime/

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