Pick your angst - rap, metal or trance
DOCTORS should ask their teenage patients what type of music they prefer to determine if they are at risk of developing a mental illness or committing suicide, researchers say.
A study, published in today's Australasian Psychiatry journal, found that teens who listen to pop music are more likely to be struggling with their sexuality, those tuning in to rap or heavy metal could be having unprotected sex and drink-driving, and those who favour jazz are usually misfits and loners, prompting a call for doctors to include musical tastes as a diagnostic indicator in mental health assessments.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the type of music you listen to will cause you to commit suicide, but those who are vulnerable and at risk of committing suicide may be listening to certain types of music," the author of the study, Felicity Baker, said yesterday.
She said an Australian study of year 10 students had shown significant associations between heavy metal music and suicide ideation, depression, delinquency and drug-taking, while an American study had also shown that young adults who regularly listened to heavy metal had a higher preoccupation with suicide and higher levels of depression than their peers.
Deliberate self-harm and attempted suicide was also associated with teenagers who listened to trance, techno, heavy metal and medieval music as part of the goth subculture, while those who attended dance parties were much more likely than their peers to be taking drugs.
Some genres of rap music, such as French rap, were linked to more deviant behaviours including theft, violence and drug use, while teens listening to hip-hop were usually less troublesome, Dr Baker said.
Michael Bowden, a child psychiatrist and the head of medical programs at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry, said most doctors already questioned teen patients about their influences from peers, the internet and music.
"The key to understanding any teenager is to treat them with respect by listening to what they have to say, rather than typecasting them according to the type of music they listen to," he said.