Adolescent suicide: music preference as an indicator of vulnerability

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 May;32(3):530-5. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199305000-00007.


Objective: This preliminary study investigated possible relationships between adolescents' music preference and aspects of their psychological health and lifestyle.

Method: Students (mean age 14.76 years) from two randomly chosen high schools completed self-report questionnaires on preferred music types and messages in the music. In addition the Youth Self-Report provided information about suicide ideation, deliberate self-harm, "depression," and "delinquency." Brief risk taking and drug taking scales were administered in addition to questions about family environment.

Results: A marked gender bias was shown to exist with 74% of girls preferring pop music compared with 70.7% of boys preferring rock/metal. Significant associations appear to exist between a preference for rock/metal and suicidal thoughts, acts of deliberate self-harm, "depression," "delinquency," drug taking, and family dysfunction. This was all particularly true for girls. In addition, feeling sadder after listening to the preferred music appeared to distinguish the most disturbed group.

Conclusions: The authors recommend that further academic study of these associations is warranted. Both preference for rock/metal music, particularly in girls, and feeling worse after listening to the music may be indicators in adolescents of vulnerability to suicidal thoughts and actions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Music*
  • Object Attachment
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data