Suicide in music subcultures

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Suicide in music subcultures refers to the relationship between members of a subculture of music fans and the act of suicide. Researchers have examined the relationship between Heavy metal subculture,[1] Goth subculture,[2] Emo subculture,[3] and opera subculture[4] and suicide.

Goth subculture[edit]

A study published on the British Medical Journal concluded that "identification as belonging to the Goth subculture [at some point in their lives] was the best predictor of self harm and attempted suicide [among young teens]", and that it was most possibly due to a selection mechanism (persons that wanted to harm themselves later identified as goths, thus raising the percentage of those persons who identify as goths).[5] According to The Guardian, some goth teens are at more likely to harm themselves or attempt suicide. A medical journal study of 1,300 Scottish schoolchildren until their teen years found that 53% of the goth teens had attempted to harm themselves and 47% had attempted suicide. The study found that the "correlation was stronger than any other predictor."[6] The study was based on a sample of 15 teenagers who identified as goths, of which 8 had self-harmed by any method, 7 had self-harmed by cutting, scratching or scoring, and 7 had attempted suicide.[7][8][9]

The authors held that most self-harm by teens was done before joining the subculture, and that joining the subculture would actually protect them and help them deal with distress in their lives.[8][9] The authors insisted on the study being based on small numbers and on the need of replication to confirm the results.[8][9] The study was criticized for using only a small sample of goth teens and not taking into account other influences and differences between types of goths ; by taking a study from a larger number of people.[10]

Country subculture[edit]

Country music’s common themes of divorce, drinking and alcohol abuse, break-ups and troubled life situations can affect the risk of suicide in listeners when exposed to such topics. Additionally, listeners of this genre are at higher risk due to more commonality with gun ownership and marital disruption. 61.8% of gun owners identify themselves as country music fans. In a study by Harvard, there was a higher percentage of gun owners in the more rural states and a direct correlation to suicide by shooting with household guns in such states. Most lyrics displayed and sang by the country artists, often portray drinking as a normal way for dealing with personal issues. Alcohol consumption is shown to have a direct bearing on suicide risk. Divorce being the strongest predictor of suicide It has been evident in cities with both a strong country music subculture and a relatively large divorced population that we would anticipate a high suicide rate. Country music is also able to influence suicide through interaction effects within other variables. In order for suicide to be affected through the use of country music, it involves an audience that feels personally affected by the subject. A candidate for the audience pulled in by this subject is the divorce population. The messages within the sad love songs intrigue this specific audience the most rather than other white urban families or people. Geographically, many fans are generally located in the southwestern regions of the United States. The geographic location of fans contributes to the risk of suicide, with the southwest region putting them at a higher risk. In geographic locations in the southwest, populations of fans are at risk due to ties with lower middle class socioeconomic status and the strains of poverty. Indicators of poverty in country music come from the number of households without plumbing, the infant mortality rate, the percentage of female-headed households, the percentage of families with aid to dependant children, and households with income less than $2,500 a year. Structural poverty has parallels to common themes in country music, putting those fans in particular at risk.


  1. ^ Stack, S; Gundlach, J; Reeves, JL (1994). "The heavy metal subculture and suicide". Suicide & Life-threatening Behavior. 24 (1): 15–23. PMID 8203005.
  2. ^ Young, R. (2006). "Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study". BMJ. 332 (7549): 1058–1061. doi:10.1136/bmj.38790.495544.7C. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 1458563. PMID 16613936.
  3. ^ Definis-Gojanović, M; Gugić, D; Sutlović, D (December 2009). "Suicide and Emo youth subculture--a case analysis". Collegium Antropologicum. 33 Suppl 2: 173–5. PMID 20120408.
  4. ^ Stack, Steven (2002). "OPERA SUBCULTURE AND SUICIDE FOR HONOR". Death Studies. 26 (5): 431–437. doi:10.1080/07481180290086763. ISSN 0748-1187. PMID 12046619.
  5. ^ "Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study". BMJ. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 2011-12-27.
  6. ^ Polly Curtis and John Carvel. "Teen goths more prone to suicide, study shows." The Guardian, Friday 14 April 2006
  7. ^ Robert Young; Helen Sweeting; Patrick West (4 May 2006). "Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study". British Medical Journal. 332 (7549): 1058–1061. doi:10.1136/bmj.38790.495544.7C. PMC 1458563. PMID 16613936. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  8. ^ a b c Gaia Vince (14 April 2006). "Goth subculture may protect vulnerable children". New Scientist. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  9. ^ a b c "Goths 'more likely to self-harm'". BBC. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 2012-03-18.
  10. ^ Sources: This most likely meant that, according to the survey, there was more of a stereotype towards goths that they did practice self-harming. Some would argue that it is a very unfair stereotype to place upon goths, as the vast majority of the goth subculture is against even the thought of practicing self-harm and is strongly against it.