A study conducted by Dr. Katrina McFerran of the University of Melbourne in Australia has shown that children, aged 13-18, who are at risk for depression are more likely to listen to heavy metal. By conducting a study that utilized 50 in-depth personal interviews as well as over 1,000 national survey responses, Dr. McFerran wants to implement an intervention model in schools to avoid such situations.
McFerran states: “Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising, but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way. Examples of this are when someone listens to the same song or album of heavy metal music over and over again and doesn’t listen to anything else. They do this to isolate themselves or escape from reality. If this behavior continues over a period of time then it might indicate that this young person is suffering from depression or anxiety, and at worst, might suggest suicidal tendencies.”
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As part of her study Dr McFerran is seeking input from young people, particularly those who suffer from depression and anxiety to better understand the affects of heavy metal. She is also interested in hearing from parents along with their teenagers. (contact information can be found in the sidebar here)
I find myself having issues with this study. While I absolutely agree that heavy metal can have lyrical themes tackling depression and suicide, I feel that it is wholly unfair to assume that the heavy metal genre exacerbates depression. Rather, I think that depression leads people to find solace in music that they can relate to, thereby allowing a form of catharsis.
Also, aren’t kids between 13 and 18 supposed to have depressed feelings? That’s the time when emotional and, more importantly, hormonal changes are at their peak. It is also the time when self-discovery is of the utmost importance. This is when children are finding out who they are and what they enjoy rather than solely relying on what is being fed to them by their parents.
As for repetitive listening, what is wrong with enjoying an album over and over? I’ve done that with Opeth, Imogen Heap, Damien Rice, Sigur Ros, Metallica, Silent Hill OSTs, etc… and I felt a wide range of emotions. Yes, I felt sad and dejected at some points but I also felt elation, relief, joy, and much more.
I’d like to see more about this study before I deem it biased. What are your thoughts? Think there is something to this study or do you think it is being approached in the wrong way?