Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Michael Anestis

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Daniel Capron

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Joye Anestis

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Males account for over two-thirds of suicide deaths annually. Additionally, more than 50% of American suicide deaths annually are firearm-related. Suicide risk is elevated within firearm owning households and men are more likely to own firearms, which suggests that male firearm owners are at disproportionate risk for suicide. Prior research has argued that certain stereotypically male traits (e.g., lack of help-seeking) may explain sex differences in suicide death; however, this remains a poorly understood phenomenon. Male gender norms (e.g. physical toughness, self-reliance) may contribute to the development or expression of capability for suicide, primarily through their impact on behavior. The current study attempted to clarify sex differences in suicide death by examining sex differences in capability for suicide among male and female firearm owners. A structural equation modeling approach was utilized to test proposed and alternative theoretical models, which examined at the impact of sex, masculine norm adherence, and the interaction of both, on latent capability constructs. Results revealed that neither the proposed nor alternative measurement model converged, suggesting that latent capability variables were not appropriately measuring their intended constructs. An exploratory path analysis assessing relationships between observed variables provided some preliminary support for the existence of sex differences across indicators of capability, as well as the influence of masculine norm adherence on capability. Overall, these results indicated that capability for suicide is a complex construct not easily captured by existing measurement tools. Limitations to the current study’s design preclude strong inferences regarding the relationships between sex, masculine norm adherence, and indicators of capability for suicide. However, exploratory findings offer insight regarding potentially fruitful areas for further exploration. Future directions and potential interventions are discussed.