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Suicides by Gender

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Suicide Deaths in Rhode Island, By Age and Sex, 2015-2019

Click on the tabs in the left-hand column below to see the data displayed by count, percent, and rate per 100,000.

Data Source: Rhode Island Violent Death Reporting System (RIVDRS), 2015-2019.

Notes: Data include suicide deaths that occurred in Rhode Island among Rhode Island residents. In compliance with RIDOH’s Small Number Reporting Policy, counts of less than five are not shown. Any use of counts to calculate rates and proportions is subject to RIDOH’s Small Number Reporting Policy available at: health.ri.gov/publications/policies/smallnumbersreporting.pdf

Discussion

Suicide, sex, and gender identity

More males die by suicide than females. The rate of suicide deaths among males in Rhode Island for 2015-2019 was about 3.3 times higher than for females. When we look at age and gender, we can see that while people die by suicide at all ages, deaths at younger ages are more often among males. Female deaths are somewhat clustered later in life.

The chart shows these data. Under count we can see the total number of males and females who died by suicide in each age group in 2015-2019. Count shows us that many more males than females died by suicide in every age group.

Looking at percent tells a different story. This helps us understand at which points in the lifespan were more males or females dying, and if there were important differences. While deaths amongst males were spread across all ages, there were fewer suicide deaths amongst young females in 2015-2019. Suicide deaths amongst females cluster in the middle years—age 45-64. Rate gives us a third, important fact: rate per 100,000 people. This lets us know that, males younger than 25 died by suicide at a rate of 30.8 per 100,000 and females younger than 25 died by suicide at a rate of 5.2 per 100,000. This means the male suicide rate in 2015-2019 for those younger than 25 is approximately six times higher than the female suicide rate.

It is also important to understand groups not represented in Rhode Island’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) data, due to data limitations and small numbers. What is called “sex” in NVDRS refers to the victim’s gender identity at the time of their death, and it includes transgender identities (people whose gender identity does not correspond to that assigned to them at birth). There is a separate variable for noting if a victim of suicide was transgender, and a person can be identified as “male” or “female” and also “transgender.” Transgender suicide deaths are not separated out in these visualizations, due to the Department of Health’s small numbers policy; however, they are included as “males” or “females” depending on the identity that the person held. We recognize that this is a limitation in the dataset for people who identify as non-binary or another identity.

Rhode Island is not able to evaluate transgender suicide rates due to small numbers; however, national evidence tells us that transgender women, men, girls, boys, and non-binary people are more likely than cisgender people to attempt and to die by suicide. You can read more about that here. More research is needed on the mental health and life experiences of transgender and non-binary people. To understand why males die by suicide at a higher rate than females, you can start reading here.

trans woman with multicolored face decoration

Tips for understanding the data on this page

It’s helpful to understand what some of the data terms mean. Here is information about percentages and rates.

Percentages tell us how many people have died by suicide compared to the whole group of people. For instance: when we look at the percentages of people who have died by age, the graph shows us out of all the suicide deaths in the state, how many deaths were among people under 24 and over 65.

Rates tell us how many people have died by suicide compared to a larger group, taking into account the population size of that group. For instance: when we look at race/ethnicity by rates, we can see that Black, non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders have a higher rate of death from suicide than you might assume based on the percent of suicide deaths in 2015-2019 that were amongst Black, non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders. This is because we have adjusted for the smaller population of Black, non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders in the state.