Logic’s Lifeline song, 1-800-273-TALK linked to fewer suicides: study

TORONTO – The powerful lyrics and stories in the song by American rapper Logic, 1-800-273-8255, are increasing calls to the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800 273-TALK) and a corresponding decrease in suicides in attributed to the US after three public events that attracted the most attention to the song, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in The BMJ.

The song is about someone in a suicidal crisis and starts with Logic expressing that hopelessness. It follows the Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara, who responds with empathy and a positive message of hope, and ends with Logic singing about perseverance and the desire to live. The song also features American music artist Khalid.

The accompanying music video follows the life of a young black man who struggles with disapproval and bullying for being gay, tries to gain acceptance and think about suicide before contacting Lifeline with a phone call. The video ends years later when he finds love, happiness, and acceptance.

The song’s influential effects illustrate the positive impact popular media can have on vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups who have thoughts of suicide, researchers say.

The observational study, led by Thomas Niederkrotenthaler at the Medical University of Vienna, assessed the changes in the daily call volume on the hotline before and after the release of the song, the MTV Video Music Awards 2017 and the Grammy Awards 2018 – the three periods in which the song generated some of its most intense public attention.

A comprehensive dataset for Twitter examining all specific mentions of the geolocated song in the US, with the exception of malicious bots, was used to get estimates of audience attention and duration.

It found that in the 34 days following these three events, Lifeline received 9,915 more calls than normal, or 6.9 percent more than normally expected. There were also 245 fewer suicide deaths, or 5.5 percent fewer than expected.

“In my mind, I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t even try to save anyone’s life,'” Logic, née Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, said in a video about the song. “And then it hit me – the power that I have as an artist with one voice. I didn’t even try to save your life. What could happen now if I actually did it? “

The song, which landed at number three on the U.S. Billboard chart in September 2017, was also linked to a nearly 10 percent surge in Google searches for Lifeline in the 28 days after its release, and had over a billion streams on Spotify from At the end of 2020, researchers found. The official music video has been viewed more than 431.78 million times on YouTube.

“Logic’s song probably represents the broadest and most lasting message on suicide prevention, which is directly linked to a story of hope and recovery in any place to date, and is therefore a happy event for research”, the authors, to whom researchers from Austria , the United States, Canada, and Australia, wrote.

Also included was a “dummy variable” responsible for publishing 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix show that at the time of its release was critically criticized for failing to follow media recommendations for safe depictions of suicide, said researchers. Previous research found Show has been linked to a 5.5 percent increase in suicides in the United States among people between the ages of 10 and 19.

The researchers also considered World Suicide Prevention Day and famous people’s suicides in the period leading up to the song’s release through December 2018 as additional variables, including the deaths of Chris Cornell, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain. The researchers found that overall patterns for celebrity suicides in terms of influence and impact were largely in line with previous research.

“Previous spikes in calls to Lifeline have almost always been linked to harmful media events such as celebrity suicide,” the researchers wrote, but noted that there is little or limited research evaluating the positive effects.

“Our finding that during the period of high public attention for Logic’s song there was a significant increase in actual help-seekers and a possible decrease in suicides supports the real effectiveness of this intervention.”

The authors noted that the study had some limitations, including whether the song had an impact beyond the period of time that it received the most attention and the fact that social media data may not fully capture how many people the song was heard actually heard.

“Logic has shown the creative arts’ potential to instill constructive coping strategies for people in mental distress,” wrote Alexandra Pitman, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University College London, in an editorial in the same issue of the BMJ.

“Future plans for similar interventions should try to measure attitudes towards suicide in the target group in order to help us understand the mechanisms of action. In the meantime, the engagement of key cultural influencers is welcome to step up public health interventions aimed at strengthening protective factors against suicide “in certain vulnerable groups.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that you can use.

Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-833-456-4566

Center for Addiction and Mental Health: 1 800 463-2338

Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or Text 45645

Child help phone: (1-800-668-6868)

Embrace Life Council hotline: 1-800-265-3333

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-330-6366

If you need immediate help, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.


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