When you first listen to a song, it's not always immediately clear what the song is about. While there are plenty of songs with secretly dark meanings, those meanings can escape even the most astute listener. Songs about suicide are usually even harder to place. These songs appear in all genres, from country and rap to metal and punk, and they're so unexpected. Few would've guessed that Van Halen's catchy "Jump" is about a man encouraging someone to jump to their death off of a high building. Even fewer people would guess that "Waltzing Matilda" is really about a sheep thief who kills himself to avoid arrest.Sometimes music fans fail to notice a song's meaning because the backstory isn't clear from the lyrics. Other times, the song is so upbeat that the lyrics produce cognitive dissonance. Sometimes, you've heard a song so many times that it becomes easy to gloss over the dark lyrics.
Keep reading to find out what other secret suicide songs are out there and take note of the truly surprising ones.
If the title didn't make it clear enough, though, this list discusses suicide so please use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to keep reading.
Most people who don't know the story behind Van Halen's "Jump" think of it as an invitation to take a risk. With its bouncy synth line and seemingly encouraging lyrics, the song certainly doesn't seem like it would have anything to do with death.
David Lee Roth has stated, however, that the song is about self-inflicted fatality. He got the idea for the song while watching a man on the news threaten to commit suicide. Roth believed that there was at least one onlooker in the crowd telling the man to "go ahead and jump."
Inside The Fire - Disturbed
Those who first heard Disturbed's "Inside the Fire" while watching the official music video definitely know that this song is about suicide. David Draiman announces it and lists the suicide hotline for anyone who might be triggered by the video's contents. However, this is surprising news to a lot of people who've only listened to the song."Inside the Fire" is a metal thrasher about a man trying to rescue his girlfriend Devon from hell after she commits suicide. It's super easy to get caught up in the whole trading your soul to a demon thing and fail to notice that Devon - a victim of sexual abuse - killed herself.
Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" is about a student who lashes out and attacks his classmates after being bullied in school and ignored by his parents. In the song, Jeremy bites a staff member and punches a classmate but the largest emphasis is placed on the fact that he finally did something; he finally "spoke in class today."
You can't tell from the lyrics but the song is based on two real events, one of which is the suicide of 16-year-old Jeremy Delle who shot himself in front of his English teacher and 30 classmates in 1991.
The song also draws inspiration from band member Eddie Vedder's middle school classmate who shot up an Oceanography classroom.
If you're not listening carefully, "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins could easily sound like a feel-good song about living in the present and embracing the current moment. Lyrics like the first few seem to support this message:
Today is the greatest
Day I've ever known
Can't live for tomorrow
Tomorrow's much too long
Once you get further into the song, however, it becomes clear that while today might be the greatest day, it's not great because the narrator is seizing the moment and living life to the fullest. Indeed, today is the day because he finally decides to end his unhappy life. The more descriptive lyrics make this fact more clear:
I wanted more
Than life could ever grant me
Bored by the chore
Of saving face
Can't wait for tomorrow
I might not have that long
I'll tear my heart out
Before I get out
This narrator is ready to "tear [his] heart out."