How a hip hop song from 2017 potentially saved lives by increasing calls to a suicide prevention hotline

Male public health researcher wearing black glasses and a blue shirt. Background has a window that has a view to trees.
Photo: Associate Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler (courtesy of the Medical University of Vienna).

Episode 4 | Season 3

A word of warning before we start—this episode discusses mental health and suicide. You may skip this episode if the topics are unsuitable for you or those you are with.

In 2017, the American hip hop artist Logic released the song ‘1-800-273-8255’ which was the phone number for the US Lifeline. The song has a powerful message of hope, perseverance and optimism for life. Suicide results in more than 700,000 deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization.

The Austrian public health scientist Thomas Niederkrotenthaler and his research team were intrigued by the suicide prevention message of the song. In 2021, they published a study in the British Medical Journal which explored whether there was an association between the release of the song and calls to Lifeline.

In today’s episode, Thomas shares how positive stories have a role in suicide prevention. He also shares how Logic’s 1-800 song led to an increase in calls to Lifeline.


Time stamps

[00:00] Warning that the podcast discusses mental health and suicide.

[00:13] Introduction to Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler.

[01:42] Werther effect.

[05:25] Peer-reviewed research on the media’s role in suicide prevention.

[08:49] Papageno effect.

[12:37] Differences in the Werther and Papageno effects in the news versus in entertainment.

[17:59] Research findings from the British Medical Journal study on Logic’s song ‘1-800-273-8255’.

[24:30] Whether it was possible to know from the research findings how much the music video and live performance had on suicide prevention.

[27:50] ‘13 Reasons Why’ TV show.

[33.26] Advancements in research since the 2021 British Medical Journal study on Logic’s song ‘1-800-273-8255’.

[39:26] How Thomas became aware of the song.

[40:52] Possible future implications of music on mental health, the wider society and future generations.

[43:54] What motivates Thomas to do research on mental health.

[45:39] What living healthier today means to Thomas.

[47:18] Advice for his 18-year-old self.

[50:34] Thomas asks Jared what is his motivation for doing the podcast.

[52:00] Where to seek mental health crisis support.

[52:21] Freelance artist sings an acoustic rendition of Logic’s song ‘1-800-273-8255’.

Music (except for the cover song at the end) and sound effects: Storyblocks.

Photo: Associate Professor Thomas Niederkrotenthaler (courtesy of the Medical University of Vienna).



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The Healthier Today podcast is for informational purposes only. Please speak to a health professional for specific individual health advice.

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