I am often told by the teens I see for counseling that music-“my music” is their number one coping tool. My guess would be that many of you can remember a song that summed up or pushed you through your teen years. A song that expressed how you were feeling or helped you at least know you were not alone in what you were feeling.
This April, a rapper named Logic released 1-800-273-8255. The lyrics provide a chilling narrative of how difficult life is for our teenagers right now.
“I been on the low,” he sings, “I been taking my time/I feel like I'm out of my mind/It feels like my life ain't mine/Who can relate?”
Suicides among youth are on the rise. Among adolescent girls, they doubled between 2007 and 2015; and in that same period, they increased by 30% in adolescent boys. Only about 36 percent of youth with a mental disorder receive treatment. This is a serious problem for our teens, for families, for our nation.
But 1-800-273-8255 also brings hope.
“I know where you been, where you are, where you goin/I know you're the reason I believe in life/What's the day without a little night?/I'm just tryna shed a little light /It can be hard/It can be so hard/But you gotta live right now/You got everything to give right now.”
1-800-273-8255 is the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Line. The day the song was released there was a 100% increase in Google searches for the Lifeline’s phone number, and in the six months since calls have risen 33% compared to 2016, and Facebook activity has tripled.
When Logic performed 1-800-273-8255 at the MTV Music Awards, a chorus of people, of all ages, and shapes and colors came on stage, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the telephone number and the message, you are not alone.
This is the message we need to give to our teens, the message they deserve from us.
Each of us come into contact with teenagers. Some of whom are certainly living with challenging situations, and without the resources they need. Our teenagers need to know they are not alone. They need people in their lives who have been where they have been and not just survived but thrived. They need people who are willing to acknowledge its hard to be a young person right now. And who are willing to invest and commit to making it a little easier.
Say hello. Smile. Listen. Encourage. Volunteer. Listen. Educate yourself. Step up. Invest.
If we adults make a sincere effort, we can change the numbers, and the music.