Since Logic’s hit song “1-800-273-8255” first debuted in April, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline after which it’s named has seen record numbers in call volume and social media engagement. Calls are up 33% when compared to 2016, and the organization, which operates nearly 160 crisis hotline centers across the country, is seeing three times the activity on Facebook. Google searches were up 100% in late spring, and have clocked a steady 25% increase since. The NSPL website, which was getting around 300,000 unique visitors a month, has reached over 400,000.
“We had the second-highest call volume in the history of our service the day of the song’s release,” says John Draper, who has been director of NSPL since 2004 and has worked in crisis intervention and suicide prevention for almost 25 years. “It’s remained high ever since.”
One commonality many of the callers share: that “the song made a difference,” he adds. “It’s incredibly heartening.”
The data has yet to be tallied for the boost that followed Logic’s performance of the hit at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards — he was joined by Khalid, Alessia Cara, and local Los Angeles volunteers in T-shirts bearing the lifeline’s number, each of whom had lived with or experienced suicide. But its significance, Draper tells Variety, goes far beyond the numbers. “To stand up there, not only with the number on their backs, but the message that you’re not alone — that, we thought, was most important to get out there. And Logic and his team effectively did that.”
“1-800,” which puts music to the internal conflict tormenting those who feel compelled to reach out to a suicide hotline, was released with the full cooperation of the NSPL. “[Logic’s team] wanted permission from us to use the number, and of course, we were all delighted to let that happen,” says Draper. “Sometimes just knowing this service is there can make people feel more hopeful.”
Given recent suicides by musicians Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, Draper notes that there is renewed urgency to the cause, particularly seeing as an important public heath message is often missed: the journey to recovery. “Celebrities will say they’ve had these experiences, but we don’t hear a lot about how they got through it. They don’t really say what helped.” For that, Draper praises VMAs host Katy Perry for recently opening up about past suicidal thoughts, but adds, “We would love to hear more of a conversation.”