The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year, with the 15-29 age group particularly affected. Studies show that adolescents listen to music for approximately two to three hours per day, especially when feeling distressed (Limited, 2019). Different types of music have an effect on all kinds of people. Fans of “Emo” music for example are associated with depression and drugs which can lead into suicide. Sad music has a high psychoticism which means there’s a link between behavior and music that can affect psychological moods. If someone is depressed they tend to listen to sad songs which doesn’t help their psychological state. They would feel low, hopeless, and lean towards the more sad songs, heavy rock , emo, and heavy metal. Fans of country music have the highest rate in suicide. Additionally, country songs often portray alcohol consumption as a “necessary” method for dealing with life’s problems which caused a lot of people dying from suicide. There are Crossover thrash, thrash metal, hardcore punk, funk metal, and skate punk just to name a few more in the “Suicide music” catagory. Being in the Gothic culture and listening to that kind of music is kind of a cult because in order to be a true “goth” you would have to have gone through self harm or a suicide attempt. A lot of music relates to real life situations and touch on themes of hopelessness, dissatisfaction with work, financial strain, and loneliness.
For the vulnerable people who were suffering from depression or anything else psychological would have a higher rate of suicide if they listened to this kind of music. Youths who listen to the kind of music that was mentioned love the aggression, the exploitation, the drug references, and the sex references. They feel like they belong somewhere and they feel like they’re not alone and that somebody else is also going through the same things that they are. They get more and more attached then kind of act out the lyrics thinking that the artist of the songs are telling them to do these things because they look up to them and it’s all psychological.
Lyrics to songs have a huge impact on people. For example, people say that there are some songs that have hidden messages in them like satanic rituals and there are some artists that have been taken to court because the song wasn’t understood how it was supposed to have been. This happened to the artist Ozzy Osbourne. A young boy named John McCallum listened to Ozzy Osbourne’s song called “Suicide Solution” and shot himself. His parents took Osbourne to court, claiming that his lyrics incited the youth to kill himself. Osbourne stated that the song was actually about avoiding alcohol and not an endorsement of suicide at all (Olson, n.d.). Moreover, the increased tempo inherent in rock music caused excitement and tension in listeners and implicitly evoked aggression, anger, depression, and other negative emotions specific to suicidality (Papers, 2017).
Some people are more attracted to sad songs, and people find sad songs more appealing when they are in certain moods or in particular circumstances. People with a propensity to absorption were more likely to enjoy negative emotions in music. Absorption in music enables a listener to identify with the vocalist and the message expressed by the lyrics. People who possess greater musical empathy are more likely to enjoy listening to music that makes them feel sadness or grief and can lead into suicide attempts or actual fatal suicide. The risk of some music that reinforces sadness is especially troublesome for people who have depressive disorders, thinking about their engagement in past bad situations and experiences and losses for example.
People with these thoughts and disorders often listen to these high risk “suicide music” especially in situations they deem embarrassing, disappointing, or involving argument or conflict because they feel like it will give them some comfort but instead it can lead into suicide. Rap music has a lot of references to gangs, gun violence, sex, money, materialistic things, and suicide. Young teens often try to fit in and think it’s “cool” to do what the lyrics say and then kids end up committing suicide because they can’t handle being in a gang or they’re getting bullied by a gang member. Also because they can’t afford the materialistic things or keep up with the new trends all because of some lyrics in a sad rap song.
People who have an obsession with an artist will literally do anything they say. They worship them like it’s a religion. If the artist writes sad or dark lyrics talking about suicide, the people with the obsession will more than likely take that like the artist is saying it’s a good thing, and that’s what needs to happen and will sadly commit suicide. If the artist posts something directed at another artist negatively or to boost and praise them their fans will do the same thing. It’s like they have been brain washed and it’s also like a cult. Having a hardcore fan base is like having your own cult because anything the artist says the fans will do whether it’s good or bad because they look up to them and respect them. They love that person or group so much that they will literally do anything for them. In their eyes the artist is the leader of their world.
In conclusion, this doesn’t mean that all genres of music will cause depression or suicide. It really depends on what your personality is and how your brain works because everybody is different. Music can definitely help people and music can definitely have an impact on the negative minded people and those who are vulnerable. Music is designed to create moods, get you dancing, or thinking, or singing along, so it seems pretty reasonable that sad music could make someone more depressed. It probably wouldn’t affect someone without anxiety or another existing cause, but if you are already down, it could be a tipping point. It might not even be sad music, just songs with a personal meaning or connection. But, it can definitely cause suicide.