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A Top-Ranked Tune Hopes to Fight Suicide

Lately, Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart has been filled with some of the worst, most profane, and sexually vile songs in its history. However, the song currently parked at #3 has a completely different message. Instead of talking about drugs, alcohol, or sex, it addresses suicide…with the hope of stopping it.

Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, an American hip-hop artist known as Logic, recently released a song with an unusual title: “1-800-273-8255.” Yes, the title is a phone number—it’s the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Though the song’s lyrics never mention the number, it’s easy to see why Logic chose that title.

Here are the opening lines:

I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine
Who can relate?
I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine
I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die today
I just wanna die
I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die
And let me tell you why

Logic, joined by Alessia Cara and Khalid, then begins describing the very painful existence of a gay teenager (Coy Stewart) facing a host of heartbreaks and struggles. The song’s seven-minute official music video shows us the teenager in a tense encounter with his confrontational father (Don Cheadle), a burgeoning relationship with the boy he’s romantically interested in (Nolan Gould), the reaction of that boy’s relatively supportive father (Matthew Modine), and the help a comforting track coach (Luis Guzman) offers him. Teammates treat him as an outcast, even hanging sex toys in his gym locker. Tension builds as he gets his hands on a pistol and holds it to his head in his bedroom.

But the boy makes a call for help instead, and the lyrics shift toward hope:

I finally wanna be alive
I finally wanna be alive
I don’t wanna die today
I don’t wanna die
I finally wanna be alive
I finally wanna be alive
I don’t wanna die
I don’t wanna die

As the video ends, the adult versions of the main characters get married, with parental approval. The lyrics and video—along with a live performance at this year’s MTV VMAs—have deeply impacted audiences.

Solutions Beyond a Song

Meanwhile, suicide remains the second-leading cause of death among America’s teenagers. This is certainly an interesting time for a song to focus on the topic, because the rate of suicide among teens is climbing. Unsurprisingly, the increase corresponds with a rise in “major depression” among American teens. There’s no shortage of potential culprits to blame, but researchers frequently cite heavy use of social media.

Regardless of the causes behind suicide, the absolute best solution is still the close presence of loving, caring adults.

The steps can be simple:

Have conversations with your teenagers about suicide.

As a pastor who’s been walking a family through a suicide for the past week, shock is always a major player in the aftermath of self-inflicted death. “We don’t know where this came from!” “We had no idea s/he was hurting so much.” “If only we’d known about the pain we could have….”

Adults talk with their teenagers about many important topics: sex, controlled substances, texting while driving, peer pressure, and so on. It’s wise to do the same with suicide. No, it doesn’t have to be hyper-emotional; nor should we raise the subject by voicing our suspicions. The core of the conversation might simply be a few compassionate questions:

  • How are you feeling about being you right now?
  • What’s the most exciting part of your life? the most upsetting part?
  • What’s the one thing you most wish you could change?
  • How do plan to do that?
  • What can we do to help you?

Notice that none of the questions are “You’re not thinking about killing yourself, are you?!” Communicate in a way that neither side freaks out. Lead off with love…and end there, too! Prove you genuinely care, and make sure you show support instead of just talking about it .

Get teenagers any form of help they need.

If your conversations reveal any underlying troubles, find assistance as soon as possible. For example, if your kid is alone, help them develop solid, healthy relationships. When counseling is needed, get a referral from a local professional, such as a guidance counselor or pastor. Maybe your teenager can use tips on managing social media and its constant impact on their life. If so, Jonathan McKee’s new book The Teen’s Guide to Social Media…and Mobile Devices, out soon, helps kids understand that their value is so much more than what others may perceive of them on a screen.

I’m glad Logic released “1-800-273-8255.” Not only does the song offer a break from the “lowest common denominator” found in other top hits, but it may just give a hurting kid hope. That said, I’m not depending on a song to protect my son. That’s my job…and I’ll do it as though his life depends on it.

3 thoughts on “A Top-Ranked Tune Hopes to Fight Suicide

  1. Avatar

    I do not understand why u would promote a song that has 2 males getting married. The song goes from suicide prevention to getting together with ur gay lover. Adding in gay marriage changes the conversation. Focus on suicide prevention instead. There r so many better ways. This is a reach….

  2. Avatar

    Stop promoting Homosexuality

  3. Avatar

    You talk about the top music being bad but you have no problem promoting a song that promotes homosexuality and big-time sexually charged MTV!!!! Find another way to defeat suicide.

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A Top-Ranked Tune Hopes to Fight Suicide

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