Q:  Can Music Cause Suicidal Thoughts?


Is there such a thing as suicidal music? or music that can cause suicidal thoughts? I sit here crying, listening to classical music... Trying to figure out a way to deal with life...or to perhaps deal with myself.

Dear Richard -- 
Thank you for your question.  Many thoughts come quickly to mind, including sad ones about your having been in that place at all.  But the composer would probably be pleased to know that his or her passions came through to you; or that the effort to create something moving was successful.  Generally, I think art both communicates something from the artist and serves as a springboard for us to experience our own feelings strongly, sometimes clearly.  In other words, you are probably getting a strong dose of your own "stuff", as well as something the composer may have been trying to convey. 

And since your "stuff" seems to include some things about suicide, may I pass along an essay that I found particularly striking, art in itself if you will, about suicide.  I should offer the usual cautions, like if you ever find yourself thinking about actually putting your thoughts into action, you should get help immediately (friend, family, go to local ER, call 911).  Lots and lots of people think about it, some take some action, some unfortunately succeed (unfortunately, because I know of only one patient I've ever worked with where I felt I had nothing further to offer at that time; and since that time, she's worked with another colleague who did have other ideas, and I've had further ideas since myself -- so it would be hard to find a point at which "giving up" made sense logically.  But of course we're not talking logic in these circumstances.  Anyway, don't forget the caution).  

I hope by now you are in a different place, though you probably have not left behind entirely the place that music was taking you.  I hope too that you find a means to more hopeful view.   If that's not happening so far, and you haven't tried it already, people who ask questions like yours are probably those who will make good use of a good psychotherapist (or, since you're writing on this site, a good psychiatrist who can also look at medication options).  I hope then that you have one of those, or will consider finding one, if things are not much better already.  

Dr. Phelps


Published August, 2001