August 8, 2022

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(Newser) – A hit 2017 song describing suicidal ideation, whose title is the number of...


A hit 2017 song describing suicidal ideation, whose title is the number of the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, may have saved hundreds of lives, according to a new study. Hip-hop artist Logic penned “1-800-273-8255” in response to his own feelings of depression, as well as his conversations with fans. The first verse is sung by Logic from the perspective of a person who doesn’t want to be alive. The second is sung by Alessia Cara from the perspective of a suicide hotline crisis worker. “I think openly discussing depression and anxiety and the darker side of life … people appreciate that and can relate to it,” Logic (real name Sir Robert Bryson Hall II) tells CNN. Researchers agree.

They found an increase in calls to the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline over a total of 34 days after the song’s release (5%), after a performance at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (8.5%), and after a 2018 Grammy Awards performance (6.5%), per MedPage Today. What’s more, there was a 5.5% reduction in suicides among 10- to 19-year-olds during those periods, per the Washington Post. Basically, there were 245 fewer suicides than expected, according to the study published Monday in the BMJ.

Study author Thomas Niederkrotenthaler of the Medical University of Vienna has done previous research on suicide and the media, including a study published in 2020 that found a 13% increase in suicide risk after the media reported on a celebrity suicide. However, he tells CNN that including the lifeline number in these reports could help reduce such “copycat” deaths. Niederkrotenthaler’s most recent study “shows for the first time that if help-seeking and recovery from severe crisis is prominently featured in the media, this can have a positive effect of increasing help-seeking and reducing suicide,” he says.

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As for Logic, he’s simply glad to find out he may have made a difference. “To know that my music was actually affecting people’s lives, truly, that’s what inspired me to make the song,” he says. “We did it from a really warm place in our hearts to try to help people. And the fact that it actually did, that blows my mind.” His message for those struggling now: “It gets so much better—I know it does because I’m talking from experience.” (Read more suicide prevention stories.)

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