Logic's 2017 hit song and music video "1-800-273-8255," about an outed Black gay teen facing homophobic abuse from fellow students at his school, probably saved hundreds of lives.
The song, whose title is the phone number for the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, resulted in a significant increase in the number of calls to the hotline and an estimated reduction in deaths by suicide after its initial release in 2017, according to a study published in The BMJ.
Entitled "Association of Logic's hip hop song '1-800-273-8255' with Lifeline calls and suicides in the United States: interrupted time series analysis," the study found that the song "was associated with a large increase in calls" to the lifeline number and that a reduction in the number of deaths by suicide "was observed in the periods with the most social media discourse about the song."
The study examined a variety of data including Twitter posts and found the song received the most amount of publicity after the video's initial release and at the MTV Video Music Awards both in August 2017, and again on January 2018, following the 2018 Grammy Awards. In the 34-day periods following each event, Lifeline received 9,915 (or 6.9 percent) more calls than during similar periods in previous years. The study also found a decrease of 245 deaths by suicide nationwide over the same 34-day periods when compared to the same time periods in the past.
While researchers admit other factors may have influenced the increase in calls and reduction in deaths by suicide, the study's lead researcher notes the significance of the rap genre in their findings.
"Rap music is one of the most popular music genres in the United States and therefore more likely to reach groups that are not interested in typical sorts of prevention messaging," Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, Ph.D., MMSc, associate professor at the Suicide Research Unit at the Medical University of Vienna, explained to Psych Central.
"Music can be a beneficial outlet for youth across communities who are struggling with their mental health as it provides them with an opportunity to process overwhelming emotions as well as communicate how they're feeling through safe and creative expression," Doreen Marshall, Ph.D., vice president of mission engagement at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Psych Central.
A recent study from The Trevor Project, the support group for LGBTQ+ youth at risk of death by suicide, found LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt death by suicide than their straight peers. Carl Nassib of the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders football team donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project when he famously came out in June of last year. The NFL quickly matched his donation.
The 2017 music video featured Nickelodeon's Coy Stewart as the outed gay youth, Nolan Gould as his boyfriend, Matthew Modine as Gould's father, and Don Cheadle as Stewart's dad. The video concludes showing Stewart calling the Lifeline number.
The recent BMJ study described the song as likely "the broadest and most sustained suicide prevention messaging directly connected to a story of hope and recovery in any location to date" and can be used as a guide for future collaborations on matters of public concern like death by suicide.
"The Logic song experience shows that creative collaborations with the entertainment industry and creative arts are highly warranted, but these projects need to reflect the diversity of various target groups," said Niederkrotenthaler.
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