45 Songs About Suicide and Suicide Prevention
Life Does Get Better If You Can Hang On
I was 15 years old when a male friend drove his truck out to the middle of nowhere one night and didn't come back. He died by suicide, and a part of me went with him. Death by suicide runs deep in my family, across generations. I hated that it touched my friends, too.
Sadly, while the rest of his peers graduated, went off to college or the military, or found work in local factories, my friend missed out. The rest of his peers became adults and met the love(s) of their small town lives. They married, had children, and some of them divorced (in various orders, but that's okay).
They ventured to far flung locations to pursue careers that some of them would never have imagined as teenagers. He missed those adventures as well. He will always be frozen in time as a high school sophomore in the sad land of "What if?"
If your life has been touched by suicide loss as mine has been, this book provides an explanation reasons people turn to death by suicide, from neurobiological, genetic, cultural to learned reasons. It was written by a clinical psychologist whose own life was touched by suicide loss.
If you're struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, stop and seek help now. While it may feel like you're out of options, if you can just hang on, life does get better. If you don't have someone you can talk to, reach out to one of the crisis intervention resources listed in this article.
If you've experienced the loss by suicide of someone you care for and want to raise prevention awareness, we are kindred souls. This playlist consists of pop, rock, country, metal, and R&B songs that do not glorify suicide but rather seek to prevent self-harm and remind people that suicide permanently impacts many lives.
1. "Lullaby" by Nickelback
Sung from the perspective of someone who has been there, the narrator in this 2012 rock song expresses the urgency of turning away from the ledge of suicide. He tells his friend that they are not alone and expresses faith in their decision-making, even at the last moment.
Please let me take you
Out of the darkness and into the light
'Cause I have faith in you
That you're gonna make it through another night.
Stop thinking about the easy way out
There's no need to go and blow the candle out
Because you're not done.
You're far too young
And the best is yet to come.
2. "How To Save a Life" by The Fray
This 2005 was inspired by the lead singer's work with troubled teens. The song describes an example of how to listen non-defensively and provide the necessary support to someone who feels they are all out of options.
3. "Why" by Rascal Flatts
In this touching 2009 country song, the grieving narrator struggles to make sense of a 17-year-old friend's suicide. He wonders
- why he didn't see it coming
- if there was something he could have done to prevent the death and
- what could possibly explain walking away "in the middle of a song."
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Suicide Facts & Statistics
Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 other people such as immediate family members, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, friends, fellow students, health care providers, etc.
More than 50% of completed suicides are by firearm. Access to a firearm is a major predictor of completed suicide.
Males comprise 79% of all completed suicides. Women have more suicidal thoughts.
On average, one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes.
Physicians are more more than two times as likely to die by suicide as non-physicians.
In the United States, the months of March, April, and May demonstrate consistently higher rates of suicide than other months of the year.
A suicide note is left behind in only a minority of cases (10-35%).
A family history of suicide significantly increases suicide risk, regardless of whether a person is mentally ill.
At least 90% of people who complete suicide have a diagnosable mental illness at the time of death. Undiagnosed, undertreated, or untreated depression is common, for example.
Each day, an average of 20 American veterans die by suicide. Compared with nonmilitary civilians, veterans are at a 21% higher risk of suicide. Female veterans are at special risk.
4. "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
This 1992 song was written with a teenage audience in mind, although its lyrics speak directly to anyone who is suffering. It tries to impress upon those who are depressed and contemplating suicide that they are not alone. Everyone hurts. Take comfort in your friends and hang on.
Reach Out For Help: Don't Suffer In Silence
National Hopeline Network 1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433)
If you or someone you know are depressed and considering suicide, call the National Hopeline Network at 1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433). Your call is free and confidential. Or chat live with a crisis volunteer at http://hopeline.com/.
5. "Goodbye (I'm Sorry)" by Jamestown Story
The narrator in this 2007 song indicates that time has run out on him, and he is ready to leave this world behind. He has experienced abuse, an untreated emotional disorder, and deep feelings of worthlessness. With regret, he is saying goodbye.
Towards the end of the song, there is a sudden cut to brief spoken facts about suicide, plus a phone number for the National Hopeline Network (1.800.784.2433). Unfortunately, a 2011 version of the song omits this important information.
6. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day
Sung from the perspective of a depressed and lonely person, this 2004 song is about feeling isolated by one's personal problems. The narrator walks a boulevard of broken dreams, accompanied only by his shadow.
However, he offers that "sometimes I wish someone out there will find me." People who are suicidal often signal their intent to others.
Has your life been touched by suicide loss?
What Is A Survivor of Suicide Loss?
People who have lost someone they care about to suicide are referred to as "survivors of suicide loss."
As the ones left behind, they are often haunted for many years by guilt, anger, and questions that can never be answered. Survivors are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Their grief is also still stigmatized.
7. "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor
This classic 1970 song is one of Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It references the death by suicide of James Taylor's childhood friend, Suzanne Schnerr, as well as his struggle with drug addiction and depression and his reflections on fame.
Taylor's lingering sense of loss is reflected in the song's famous refrain:
I've seen fire and I've seen rain.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
8. "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" by Billy Joel
Billy Joel once attempted suicide, and he wrote this upbeat 1985 song for a teenage audience to remind them that it's okay to make mistakes. Between accidents, heartbreaks, and bad choices that leave you with a bad reputation — hey, life happens — you may feel like giving up, but stick it out.
The narrator promises that brighter times are ahead:
Don't forget your second wind
Sooner or later you'll feel that momentum kick in.
Feeling Like Your Path Ahead Is Closed? Seek Help Now
9. "Stay Alive" by Smile Empty Soul
Alternative rock offers up this soothing 2009 song that provides reassurance to anyone feeling stuck, like they're out of options. Even if you feel misunderstood, lied to, and like nothing is going right, stay alive. Even if you feel nothing is right in your head or you're in too deep, stay alive. Better days are ahead.
10. "The Last Night" by Skillet
One friend approaches another in this 2006 Christian rock song, intending to issue a final farewell. However, the friend senses the lie and promises to be their lifeline: "I won't let you say goodbye. I'll be your reason why."
11. "One Last Breath" by Creed
At first, this 2001 song's protagonist believes he's found the unfortunate road to nowhere and is in grave danger of falling. He is down to one last breath, struggling to survive. Then he finds the road to somewhere, reflects on his mistakes, and comes to believe that there is something left for him in this world.
12. "How Do You Get That Lonely" by Blaine Larsen
This 2005 song asks the question that many people ask, in disbelief. How do you get that lonely, feel that empty, hurt that bad that death seems like the only option? The protagonist is without blame and just doesn't understand. (If one has never experienced depression, this may be very hard to comprehend.)
Printed underneath a sports story in the local newspaper was an article about an 18-year-old who died by suicide. It didn't even make the front page, but it would change the lives of his family, friends, and others forever.
13. "That Year" by Brandi Carlisle
The narrator in this song from 2009 lost a classmate to suicide. As a traumatized survivor of suicide loss, she couldn't say his name for 10 years, but is now finally coming to terms with what happened:
You were lonesome and blue eyed
And so special to us
You should have taken a long break
Instead of a long drop from a high place.
14. "Never Too Late" by Three Days Grace
A man is desperately trying to convince someone he cares about that it's never too late to decide that you want to live rather than die. He explains that the world will never be what you expected. The song was released in 2006.
15. "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind
Step away from the ledge. That's what the narrator in this 1997 song tells his suicidal friend on the bridge. He validates that there may be difficult life challenges that seem monumental. Then he encourages him to face those demons down rather than trying to escape them this way.
16. "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss
This haunting 2003 country song illustrates that alcoholism plays a role in one-third of all completed suicides.
After a woman broke her lover's heart, he spent the rest of his life wrapped around a whiskey bottle, trying to forget. Eventually, however, they found him dead with a suicide note nearby. Guilt consumed her, and she also became an alcoholic who died in a similar manner. ONe broken relationship, two tragedies.
17. "Hold On" by Wilson Philips
This empowering song from 1990 provides hope and encouragement for people who feel distressed, unhappy, and stepped upon by others. It promises that change is indeed possible if you can simply make it through the short-term circumstances of today:
Don't you know things can change
Things'll go your way
If you hold on for one more day
Can you hold on for one more day?
18. "By the Grace of God" by Katy Perry
In this emotional 2013 song, a protagonist experienced a heartbreak and found herself being blamed for the unraveled relationship. Feeling defeated, she lay on the bathroom floor in tears. With determination and the help of her sister, she decided to stay alive:
By the grace of God
There was no other way
I picked myself back up
I knew I had to stay
I put one foot in front of the other
And I looked in the mirror
And decided to stay
Wasn't gonna let love take me out that way.
19. "Hey Stoopid" by Alice Cooper
Yep, seriously. You wouldn't expect this 1991 song from "The Godfather of Shock Rock." The song addresses the person who might be considering ending their life by telling them in no-nonsense terms that it's a terrible idea and they're not alone.
Suicide Warning Signs
TALK - If a person talks about:
BEHAVIOR - Specific things to look out for include:
MOOD - People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods
Being a burden to others
Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
Loss of interest
Experiencing unbearable pain
Having no reason to live
Withdrawing from activities
Having no reason to live
Isolating from family and friends
Sleeping too much or too little
Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
Giving away prized possessions
20. "Save Me" by Shinedown
In this 2005 hard rock song, a substance-addicted narrator living on the streets has reached his rock bottom. Now desperate to preserve his life rather than destroy it, he pleads, "Somebody save me. Please don't erase me."
Even More Songs About Suicide and Suicide Prevention
21. Don't Give Up
Peter Gabriel (featuring Kate Bush)
22. Make It Stop (September's Children)
23. On a Bus to St. Cloud
24. Rise Above This
25. A Day Without Me
26. Bad Luck
29. With a Broken Wing
30. Don't Let Me Get Me
31. She's Falling Apart
32. Take One Breath
The Spill Canvas
35. F*ckin' Perfect
36. The Outsider
A Perfect Circle
37. Joining You
38. Stand In the Rain
39. Welcome to My Life
40. Wonderful Life
41. In a New York Minute
42. Hold On
43. Save You
44. Suicide Alley
45. Sweet Old World
The Grandparents May Be At Risk, Too
© 2016 FlourishAnyway
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