This study is apparently thirteen years old, but it won an Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine last year and just came to my attention. It’s something we have known all along, but science has now confirmed it. Country music makes white people kill themselves.
Yup. It’s true. The study showed that in urban areas, higher levels of exposure to country music were related to higher levels of suicide.
- The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate. The effect is independent of divorce, southernness, poverty, and gun availability.
Now, I do feel compelled to play the devil’s advocate. First, let’s start with the fact that the study focuses on urban areas when it is people in the sticks that generally listen to country music on purpose. Those in urban areas generally only listen to country when every other channel is playing Jennifer Lopez tunes or anything by Metallica.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the urban areas that play the most country music are generally those located closest to the sticks (for instance Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Arkansas). It’s quite likely that your tendency to commit suicide goes up dramatically just based on proximity to these cities, rather than as a direct result of the music on the radio. After all, you’re in Oklahoma or Arkansas. What else are you going to do but kill yourself?