Researchers found a 5.5% reduction in suicides among teens in the 34 days after three events that brought the song heightened public attention.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of suicide that some readers may find disturbing
In 2017, American hip hop artist Logic released his hit song '1-800-273-8255'—named after the phone number of the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—in hopes of helping others. A new study released this week found that the song did just that. The report, published on Monday in the BMJ, states that nearly 10,000 calls went to the 1-800-273-8255 lifeline in the 34 days after three events that brought the song heightened public attention: the song's release, Logic performing the song with singers Alessia Cara and Khalid at MTV's Video Music Awards in 2017 and the 2018 Grammy Awards, which saw another widely promoted performance of the hit.
Rapper Logic's "1-800-273-8255" song may have saved hundreds of lives, study finds— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) December 16, 2021
Researchers reportedly also found a 5.5% reduction in suicides among 10- to 19-year-olds during those periods, which equates to a reduction of 245 suicides below the expected number. "Celebrities but also noncelebrities can have an important role in suicide prevention if they communicate about how they have coped with crisis situations and suicidal ideation," study author Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, an associate professor in the department of social and preventive medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, told CNN in an email. "The present 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 added.
(content warning: discussion of suicide)— NowThis (@nowthisnews) December 15, 2021
In 2017, the rapper Logic released a song called ‘1-800-273-8255’ — the same phone number as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. pic.twitter.com/efIjHhX0t0
'1-800-273-8255' depicts a young man's struggle with suicidal thoughts and his eventual decision to call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Addressing the incredible impact of his hit song, Logic—whose real name is Sir Robert Bryson Hall II—told CNN: "To know that my music was actually affecting people's lives, truly, that's what inspired me to make the song. 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." The rapper revealed that he experienced crippling anxiety and depression during a 2016 tour for his second album. He battled his mental health issues by focusing on time with his wife and putting his priorities in order, he said.
Rapper Logic's song '1-800-273-8255' may have helped prevent a significant number of suicides around the time of its release, according to a new study. https://t.co/2GjocC7op5— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 15, 2021
In a series of tweets the week the song was released, Logic explained what inspired him to write the song. "Over the years so many of you guys have told me that my music has helped you through so many tough times," he wrote. "Many of you have told me its even saved your life. I'm beyond humbled. But I felt I haven't done enough... I made this song for all of you who are in a dark place and can't seem to find the light."
Music is a powerful tool...— Emotionalskills (@emotionalskills) December 17, 2021
'US rapper Logic’s song 1-800-273-8255 may have helped prevent hundreds of suicides, study finds.'
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"I'm not going to pretend to be somebody I'm not," Logic said in his latest interview, adding that he believes people "resonate with that. They're like, 'Oh, this guy is like me.' And so I think openly discussing depression and anxiety and the darker side of life... you just talk about life, people appreciate that and can relate to it. I think honesty is everything, and I think people in general can kind of smell a phony, right?" Psychiatrist Dr. Alexandra Pitman, an associate professor in the University College of London's Division of Psychiatry, confirmed that Logic openly sharing his prior history with depression "certainly makes his message more authentic, and helps suicidal people identify with the lyrics more strongly."
"The fact that he is also a very admired and famous person is also critical: this degree of influence also enhances the extent to which people feel drawn to him and his message," said Pitman, who wrote an accompanying editorial to the study for the BMJ. While the study did have limitations—only showing an association, not a direct cause and effect—it is a "really positive example of social modeling," she added. It shows there is "great potential for the messages communicated by different artists and public figures to resonate with specific communities, for example those in certain ethnic groups, occupational groups, or sexual or gender minority groups," Pitman said.
"If they can find a way to reach those groups and improve their mental health through this kind of messaging, then this would be a great service to that population's mental health," she added. "But only if they feel comfortable doing this. It would be wrong for such individuals to feel pressurized to expose themselves in this way." Logic agreed. "It's got to be authentic. Whoever is spreading that message, it needs to be done from their heart," he said, adding that the message to be shared is simple: Look forward. "Yes, it sucks. It's dust right now, 100%. But it gets better. It gets so much better -- I know it does because I'm talking from experience," Logic said. "You're not where I am now, mentally, right? But you are where I was, and I want you to know you're going to be so happy that you continued to thrive and that you continue to work on yourself."