Editor's note: September is National Suicide Prevention Month. All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members have united to promote suicide prevention awareness.
In April 2017, the producers known as 6ix and Logic released the song, "1-800-273-8255", which uses the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number as its title. On the day the song was released, there was a 27 percent increase in hotline activity and a 100 percent increase in Google searches for the hotline phone number.
In our interpretation of "1-800-273-8255," we will use the pronoun "he" as the lead voice is male, but of course the caller might be any gender. We have selected some key excerpts. The first part of the song describes a person who is suffering and has feelings of hopelessness. He has been contemplating suicide for a long time and is now spiraling out of control. The performer Logic, reaching out to his listeners, asks if anybody can relate to what he is going through. The mood in this part of the song is desperate and gloomy:
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?) …
In the first chorus, he sings:
… I don't wanna be alive
I just wanna die
And let me tell you why
Next the song's mood becomes angry and frustrated. It appears that the person is speaking with someone from the hotline. Now he is pleading for help. Nobody has truly heard and understood his struggle. He feels totally alone, and it seems that no one is reaching out to him. He feels like he does not belong anywhere:
All this other s**t I'm talkin' 'bout they think they know it
I've been praying for somebody to save me, no one's heroic
And my life don't even matter, I know it, I know it
I know I'm hurting deep down but can't show it
I never had a place to call my own
I never had a home, ain't nobody callin' my phone
Where you been? Where you at? What's on your mind?
They say every life precious, but nobody care about mine
In a later part of the song, the hotline counselor responds by pointing out the value of the caller's life; there are ways to end the suffering instead of suicide. The style of the song is softer now, which works well with the calming words of the counselor:
… It's holding on, though the road's long
And seeing light in the darkest things …
There is an entirely different mood to the last verse. The person calling the hotline is hopeful and expresses a change of heart—he realizes that he does not want to die today and knows that suicide is not the answer:
I finally wanna be alive …
I don't wanna die today
I don't wanna die …
"1-800-273-8255" is not the only song promoting positive changes. For example, Selena Gomez advocates against violence in "Kill 'em with Kindness" when she sings, "We don't have to fall from grace/Put down the weapons you fight with." Speaking of change, Charlie Puth and James Taylor recently released "Change", a song that encourages making friends rather than enemies: "I know that the world can change the moment we realize we are all the same."
LISTEN. Suicide is preventable. Everyone needs to recognize the 12 suicide warning signs:
Having any of these signs is nothing to be ashamed of, and reaching out for help shows great strength. If your child (or you) experience any of these signs, please call Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and know that you are not alone.