Does Heavy Metal Music Cause Suicides?

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Heavy metal music is a type of music that started in the early 70’s mostly in the United Kingdom then later the United States. Heavy metal sound has created its own sound by highly amplified distortion, guitar solos, up tempo beats, and lyrics that contain subjects from sex, drugs to death. Heavy metal music in the last few years had been in the spotlight for the very issue of its lyrics. In recent years that there have been suicides, and the supposed causes are the lyrics found in this music. There have been many studies in behave of heavy music and it contributing to suicide rates, and many studies stating that heavy metal music and lyrics do not effect the suicide rates. While there is a maintained belief that heavy metal music and the lyrics it contains cause listeners to commit suicide, I would like to argue that they do not. I would like to show through out the essay that heavy metal music is not the determining factor in suicide rates and has very little to do in affecting suicide rates. But the true factors that contribute to these suicides associated with heavy metal music are drug use, depression, and family status.

On 23 December 1985, Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and allegedly listening to Judas Priest music, went to a playground at a church in Reno with a 12-gauge shotgun to end their lives. Belknap died instantly after pulling the trigger. Vance was next to follow but only blew away the lower half of his face. Vance latter died of drug complications. The teens parents alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been inserted in the Judas Priest song "Better By You, Better Than Me" and that this ultimately lead the their sons suicides. To most people this seems silly, that the words “do it” caused a suicide and blew the face off another boy. Timothy Moore was a defense expert for Judas Priest while they were on trail for an alleged subliminal message that caused the suicides of two teens. Moore declares that it is a “junk science” and has no effect on listeners and often wreaks havoc with scientific integrity and justice (Moore, 1). The words “do it” were supposedly said subliminally and was the deciding factor in the death of these teens. Moore states that “it” in isolation has little meaning unless there is some antecedent to which the “it” refers. The “it” could mean many things and the song never states what “it” really is (Moore, 2). A clinical psychologist who testified for the defense stated the following, both teens had serious long-term adjustment problems both were violent and abusive in their relationships. They felt socially alienated; they were emotionally distressed, depressed, and impulsive. Both had a history of drugs use, petty crime, school failure, and unemployment (Moore, 3). Both teens were emotionally distressed, were depressed, and had a history of drug use these would contribute more to a suicide rather than the phrase “do it” in a song. Moore’s research shows that subliminal messages are not related to suicides but rather health issues, such as distress, depression and drug use were the contributing factors to suicide of Belknap, and the attempted suicide of Vance.

A study done by Karen R. Scheel and her associate shows suicide rates between heavy metal listeners and other music types listeners. Scheel chose her participants from a high school in the Midwest, and chose 121 students’ male and female ranging from 10th to 12th grade. Each participant listened to 5 types of music, which were pop music, country music, rap music, rock, music (not heavy metal) and heavy metal. The participants were then given a set of statements after listening to the 5 types of music. There were 48 statements representing reasons people may have for not killing themselves. Respondents rate the importance of each statement (to themselves) on a 6 point scale, ranging from “not at all important” to” extremely important”. Higher scores...
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