I've long known that country music makes me want to grab a lariat and hang myself from the nearest old elm tree. And now I find I'm not alone: social psychologists Steven Stack and Jim Grundlach found that the more a city's radio stations play country music, the higher the white suicide rate(1).
Theirs was a big study, encompassing forty-nine metropolitan areas, and was careful to control for factors like Southernness, poverty, divorce, and gun availability. In other words, all else equal, country music makes people want to kill themselves. This was especially true when country music represented a city's sub- rather than mainstream culture.
So here's my question: why? Do you think there's necessarily something depressing about country music? More so than emo alternative? Or smooth jazz? I did a little research while driving the other day and found that country songs generally fall into the following categories: I'm not as good as I used to be, Let's get drunk, God is great, Stay true to your family, and Here's how I stuck it to my cheating man. Do these categories create suicide?
I'm open to any and all hypotheses as long as they're harebrained and generally unsupported.
Wait! I know your finger's hovering over the checkout button, but don't pre-order my new book, Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons yet!
I'm trying to punk publishing lists. Specifically, if you might've been planning on buying the book anyway, could I talk you into doing so just after noon EST on August 7?
That way (the theory goes) sales will spike, the title will make lists, the sales snowball will continue, and eventually the world will be my oyster! (Insert evil laugh.)
Either that or the experiment will crash, burn, and make for a nice blog post.