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[HIP HOP HELP] Song tied to reduction in suicides in the US

Wide-scale public attention to the song "1-800-273-8255" by US hip hop artist Logic was associated with an increase in calls to the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and a reduction in suicides, according to a new study. The findings demonstrate the protective effect of positive media stories about suicidal thoughts and help seeking behavior, particularly for groups that are hard to reach with traditional messaging, say the study authors.

According to the US National Council on the Aging, while older adults comprise just 12% of the population, they make up approximately 18% of suicides. The latest available data (2017) show that among the more than 47,000 suicides that took place in the US 8,500 were attributed to people age 65 and up.

Logic’s song describes someone in suicidal crisis who calls the number for help, which marks a turning point towards improvement and mastery of the crisis. To assess whether the song’s positive message was linked to a change in behavior, researchers examined the associations between Logic’s song and daily calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number as well as daily suicides in the US.

They found that, in the 34-day period immediately after the three events with the strongest public attention (the song’s release, the MTV Video Music Awards 2017, and Grammy Awards 2018), there were an extra 9,915 calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an increase of 6.9% over the expected number.

Over the same period, there was a reduction of 245 suicides or 5.5% below the expected number.

This is an observational study, so can’t establish cause and effect, but the authors were able to account for several potentially influential factors, and findings were largely unchanged after adjustment.

As such, they say the findings "emphasize the potential population health benefits of working creatively and innovatively with other sectors, such as the music and entertainment industries, to promote new impactful stories of help seeking that resonate with broad audiences, leave a visible footprint on social media, and are safe in terms of not featuring potentially lethal actions but rather coping and mastery of crisis."

To read the article published in the BMJ and watch a related video, click here

To watch Logic's music video, click here


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