Medical Examiner Data

Overview

As a division of Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) works to provide answers to those affected by sudden and traumatic loss. Data collected and analyzed by OME informs public health and safety policy and programming in Denver.  

About the data 

  • The data presented in these dashboards reflect deaths reported to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner as required by Colorado Revised Statute. Not every death in the City and County of Denver is required to be reported to the Office of the Medical Examiner. 
  • The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner data may vary from other local or statewide data due to differences in reporting and coding.
  • All death category totals may change as Denver Office of the Medical Examiner has cases pending. Typically, cases get categorized within 18 weeks from date of death upon completion of Forensic Examiners case. 

Homicides

With increased crime rates a growing concern in Denver and across the country, Mayor Hancock released an enhanced action plan in early 2022 to improve public safety throughout the city. The 2022 Public Safety Action Plan(PDF, 305KB) includes strategies to prevent crime and improve policing, address proliferation of illegal guns, and expand behavioral health programming.  

*A death is considered to be a homicide when a person is killed by one or more persons; murder is unlawful killing. The legal differences between homicide and murder are established in criminal law.

 

Fatal Overdoses

Denver is experiencing an unprecedented increase in overdose deaths. Fatal and non-fatal overdoses are preventable.

DDPHE works to meet people where they are to provide behavioral health services and get people into treatment following the behavioral health framework identified in the Road to Wellness(PDF, 12MB)  and the Empower Denver Strategic Plan(PDF, 6MB) .

  • Mobile solutions like the Wellness Winnie, a roving support team, and the Substance Use Navigators (SUN) team, provide ongoing resources and connections to the community.
  • The Behavioral Health Solutions Center provides an innovative, treatment-focused, voluntary safe haven for adults experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
  • To address the increase of fentanyl overdoses in our community, DDPHE has made harm reduction tools, like fentanyl test strips and naloxone, available to all Denver residents for free.  

Additionally, DDPHE is investing nearly $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to increase behavioral health programming.  

If you are, or someone you know is, in need of confidential and immediate mental health, substance use, or emotional help, please visit Colorado Crisis Services online, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text "TALK" to 38255 to be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master's or doctoral degree.  

*Due to pending cases, overdose data is delayed several weeks.

  • Drug-related deaths represent deaths in which drugs were present in specimens examined. Each death may have had other contributing factors.
  • Toxicology results typically take between seventy and ninety days resulting in a delay of reporting drug-related deaths.
  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery. Most recent cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. Drug-related deaths involving fentanyl includes both legal and illegal use of fentanyl.
  • There is a low frequency of monthly drug related deaths, making it difficult to draw conclusions from month-to-month changes.  As best practice, use long term patterns such a quarterly or annual, to predict future trends. Do not use monthly fluctuations to generalize. 

Traffic Fatalities

Traffic deaths and severe injuries are unacceptable and preventable, and safety must be the most important consideration for every Denver street. Denver’s Vision Zero is the action plan to make Denver's streets safe for everyone — no matter where they live in the city, no matter their means and no matter their choice to walk, bike, drive or take transit. 

Suicides

Deaths by suicide are increasing at an alarming rate in the City and County of Denver, across the state and nation. DDPHE's suicide prevention response strives to remove barriers, improve systems, and advocate for change, while promoting equity in the care system. 

DDPHE’s Denver Strong program provides free, Mental Health First Aid training to residents and organizations to help identify people in crisis and know what to do. Our Community Resource Guide is available in English(PDF, 4MB) and Spanish(PDF, 4MB). It is a helpful guide for locating the services you may need.  

If you are, or someone you know is, in need of confidential and immediate mental health, substance use, or emotional help, please visit Colorado Crisis Services online, call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text "TALK" to 38255 to be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master's or doctoral degree. 

Fatalities Among People Experiencing Homelessness

The safest and healthiest place for all Denver residents to live is indoors. The city’s network of shelters are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and other temporary housing options, including Safe Outdoor Spaces, tiny homes, and motel and hotel rooms, are available where families, couples and even pets are able to stay together. Denver's goal is for episodes of homelessness to be rare, and when they do happen, for them to be brief and one time. Find resources to help if you are on the verge of losing housing, are experiencing homelessness, or are trying to help someone else.    

Definitions

For the purpose of these dashboards, please refer to the following definitions:

Manner of Death

  • Natural - A natural death is one that occurs as a result of the aging process or disease.
  • Homicide - A death is considered to be a homicide when a person is killed by one or more persons; murder is unlawful killing. The legal differences between homicide and murder are established in criminal law.
  • Accident - A death is considered to be an accident when the fatal outcome was unintentional and there is no evidence that the injuries occurred with intent to harm.
  • Suicide - A death is considered to be a suicide when a person intentionally takes his or her own life. 
  • Undetermined - A death is considered undetermined “when the information pointing to one manner of death is no more compelling than one or more other competing manners of death when all available information is considered”. 

Homelessness 

  • Individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:
    • Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
    • Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or
    • Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution. 

Polysubstance

  • The use of more than one drug. This includes when two or more are taken together or within a short time period, either intentionally or unintentionally. 

COVID-19

For data related to COVID-19, please view our COVID-19 Case Dashboards.