Is Your Music Depressing You?

Music has an amazing ability to affect our moods for good and bad, sometimes without us realising it. Listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam or Soundgarden and it’s likely you’ll encourage feelings of hostility, sadness, tension and fatigue, while repressing impulses for caring, relaxation, mental clarity and vigour. That’s what research shows grunge rock does.

And it seems “depressing” country music has a lot to answer for.  A study which compared suicide rates in US cities with the proportion of country music played on the radio showed the higher the amount of country music played, the higher the suicide rate amongst white people.

The authors suggest that country music may “nurture a suicidal mood through its concerns with problems common in the suicidal population, such as marital discord, alcohol abuse, and alienation from work”*.

What Music Makes You Sad or Happy?

That’s why researchers at the University of New South Wales, in association with the Black Dog Institute, are interested in finding out how people use music to manage their mood – and they’d like your help.

Their on-line survey aims to evaluate whether people use music to manage their mood in various day to day situations; also whether people’s music choice varies according to their personality type and when they are depressed.

Aussie Men At Risk

Four times as many Australian men as women commit suicide. And like rugby league legend Steve Rogers, they may be the ones you’d least expect to want to make an early exit.

Steve Rogers, father of former Wallaby and now Gold Coast Titans rugby league player Mat Rogers, appeared to “have it all” – the dream sporting career as one of the most outstanding Australian footballers of all time, then a successful business life as boss of his old team Sydney’s Cronulla Sharks to follow. A close friend reported that the night before he took his own life, the 51-year-old appeared “more than content, he seemed exuberant. “

Said Mat Rogers in an ABC programme at the time: “As a person of his stature and as a public figure he found it really hard to talk about his problems with other people which therefore exacerbated the problem.”

Taming the Black Dog

That’s something The Black Dog Institute wants to change. ‘Black dog’ was the term Britain’s Wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill coined for depression – his own depression, and the logo for the institute plays on Churchill’s Second World War ‘V’ for victory sign.

The Black Dog Institute is a not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder attached to the Prince of Wales Hospital and affiliated with the University of New South Wales.

*Jim Gundlach, J. – author, Steven Stack (1992) The Effect of Country Music on Suicide. Social Forces. 71(1): 211.

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