White men in U.S. cultures of honor die by suicide at greater rates than other demographic groups. This finding has been attributed to factors such as the prevalence and use of firearms in men’s suicide in honor states, as well as motivational risk factors (e.g., thwarted belongingness). Other features of honor cultures (e.g., physical aggression, risk-taking behaviors) suggest that honor-endorsing men may frequently experience painful and provocative events (PPEs), which, in turn, may facilitate practical capability for suicide. The present work tested this hypothesis and honor ideology’s relationship to firearm ownership and storage practices.
In two samples of mostly White U.S. men—one undergraduate sample (N = 472, Mage = 19.76) and one middle- to older adult sample (N = 419, Mage = 65.17)—we assessed honor ideology endorsement, PPEs, practical capability for suicide, and firearm-related outcomes.
Honor endorsement was greater among firearm owners (particularly self-protective owners), but it was unrelated to storage practices. Honor endorsement was positively associated with PPEs and practical capability. Additionally, the relationship between honor ideology and practical capability was indirectly explained by PPE exposure.
Results highlight multiple avenues—PPEs, practical capability for suicide, (self-protective) firearm ownership—by which masculine honor norms may place men at risk for suicide.