Logic’s suicide prevention song linked with drop in suicides, study shows

Grammy-nominated rapper and author Sir Robert Bryson Hall II aka Logic performs at BottleRock in Napa.

When rapper Logic’s song about a conversation between a suicidal caller and a counselor at a suicide prevention hotline hit the top of the charts, something extraordinary happened: The number of suicides actually dropped, according to a study covered by STAT News. Logic titled the 2017 song “1-800-273-8255” – the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – and it became a smash hit, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts.

YouTube video

Now an unusual study suggests the song, which features an exchange with a counselor that changed the suicidal caller’s mind, may have saved hundreds of lives. Researchers looked at three events where the song was highlighted: the release of the song in 2017, the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, and the 2018 Grammy Awards. They found that those events were associated with nearly 10,000 more calls to the Lifeline and a 5.5 percent decrease in suicides, according to the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal’s annual Christmas edition. 

In an interview with Genius, Logic, a biracial artist and two-time author who records for the Def Jam label, said he was inspired to write “1-800-273-8255” by fans who told him his music inspired them to keep living. “They’ve said things like, ‘Yo, your music has saved my life,’” Logic said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘Man I wasn’t even trying to save nobody’s life. And then it hit me, the power that I have as an artist with a voice. I wasn’t even trying to save your life — now what could happen if I actually did?”

Researchers had to factor out other media events that occurred around the same time as the song’s height in popularity, including the Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” which was associated with an increase in suicides. “There’s still a great deal of power and media around promoting stories of hope and recovery, but it’s also a reminder that there is a tide that we have to swim against,” said John Draper, the executive director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a co-author of the study. “Most stories continue to be about suicides and hopelessness, and casting that shadow consistently in the media over people in despair can actually make a dark night darker.” 

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. And if you’re a veteran, press 1.

Type of work:

Laurie Udesky reports on mental health, social welfare, health equity and public policy issues from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.