A song by US rapper Logic that references the name of a suicide prevention helpline led to a “notable increase” in the number of calls to the service, new research has found.
Titled 1-800-273-8255 – the number for the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – the song generated strong public attention upon its release and following two notable performances.
Research published in the British Medical Journal showed that following these events an additional 9,915 calls were recorded and there was evidence of a reduction in the number of suicides.
The events were the song’s release on April 28, 2017, Logic’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 27, 2017 and a later performance at the Grammy Awards on January 28, 2018.
The song, which features Alessia Cara and Khalid, remained in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 US music charts for several weeks. It was ranked at No 3 in September 2017.
The song’s release was also associated with a nearly 10 per cent uptick in online Google searches for Lifeline in the 28 days after. Between March 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018, it generated 81,953 tweets by 55,471 unique users.
Daily tweets reached three peaks corresponding to the events, the research showed.
Analysis found that 1-800-273-8255 was associated with a call volume increase of 6.9 per cent to Lifeline during the 34-day period when public attention to the song was substantial.
Over the same period, there was some evidence of a reduction in suicides amounting to 245 fewer suicides, a decrease of 5.5 per cent, the study showed.
“All these events gave widespread public attention to the message of the song – that help from Lifeline is available and effective,” the researchers said.
“Suicide prevention and education efforts must harness positive media to educate the general public and high risk groups about suicide prevention without doing harm to individuals at risk.
“But a major dilemma for research in this area has been that stories of hope and recovery receive much less media coverage than stories of suicide death.”