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Associations Between Suicide Risk Factors and Favorite Songs

Content Analysis and Cross-Sectional Study

Published Online:

Abstract.Background: For several decades, the question of whether personal suicidality is reflected in individual music preferences has been the subject of debate in suicide research. Despite many studies investigating the relationship between music use and suicidal behavior, it is still unclear whether suicide risk is reflected in individual music preferences. Aims: The present study aimed to assess whether music preferences are reflected in suicide risk factors. Method: We assessed suicidal ideation, depression, and hopelessness among 943 participants in a cross-sectional online survey. Participants provided up to five examples of their favorite music. We conducted a content analysis and coded all reported songs as suicide-related, coping-related, or unrelated to suicide. Results: Multivariate analyses controlling for gender, age, education level, and amount of daily music use indicated associations of preferences for suicide-related songs with suicidal ideation and depression. Limitations: Limitations of the present study include the use of a convenience sample and a cross-sectional design, the small number of participants with preferences for coping-related songs, and the relatively small effect size of the associations found. Conclusion: Music preferences appear to reflect suicide risk factors, with individuals who prefer suicide-related songs scoring higher in terms of suicidal ideation and depression.