Story at a glance
- Raper Logic released the song “1-800-273-8255” in 2017.
- He was inspired to write it after hearing fans tell him how much his music had affected their lives.
- Researchers found that the song and the media coverage following its release actually lowered the amount of suicides expected for that time period.
A song from rapper Logic’s 2017 album that was titled with the phone number to the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline may have prevented more than 200 suicides.
A new report in BMJ was published on Monday and found that in the 34-day period after three large public events where Logic’s song “1-800-273-8255” was promoted, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline received an excess of 9,915 calls, which was almost 7 percent higher than the expected number for that time period.
Researchers believe that those influx of calls led to a reduction of 245 suicides below the expected number for that time period.
Logic was inspired to write”1-800-273-8255″ after going on a cross country bus tour from Los Angeles to New York City, where he met one-on-one with fans who told the rapper how much his music had impacted their lives.
The rapper went on to write “1-800-273-8255” after realizing the impact he could have on people’s lives.
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In a 2017 interview with Genius, Logic explained what drove him to write the song and said, “I wasn’t even trying to save your life, now what could happen if I actually did?”
When the media reports on suicides it can complicate the issue, with researchers explaining that repetitive reporting on suicide deaths or potentially lethal actions has been shown to trigger suicides further, known as the Werther effect.
News reporting on celebrity suicides was associated with a 13 percent increase in suicides.
However, suicide related narratives can also have preventative effects. Researchers said that stories of people who successfully managed to cope with suicidal crises without dying by suicide have been associated with reductions in subsequent suicides.
That’s referred to as the Papageno effect, possible protective effects of stories of hope and recover from suicidal crises.
When Logic released his song “1-800-273-8255” he created a narrative around someone calling a suicide hotline and telling a counselor they no longer wanted to live. The accompanying music video for the song has over 431 million views and depicts a young Black man struggling with discrimination and bullying. As the boy contemplates suicide, he ultimately calls the suicide hotline and it makes a significant turning point toward improvement and masters his crisis.
Researchers say the media went on to label the song as a, “suicide prevention anthem,” which they say was associated with a nearly 10 percent uptick in online Google searchers for The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the 28 days after the song’s release.
By the end of 2020, “1-800-273-8255” had over 1 billion streams on Spotify.
The rapper told CNN that, “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.”
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