“Everything I Wanted”: Suicide in Pop Culture

Billie Eilish first rose to fame in 2016 with her wistful single “Ocean Eyes;” since then, her songs have gotten more popular and her lyrics darker. Her most recent single, “Everything I Wanted,” rose to number three on the charts, but that wasn’t even her biggest accomplishment of 2019—she also released a number one album, a number one single, reached forty-eight million followers on Instagram, and was nominated for six Grammys. Dave Grohl, lead singer of the rock band The Foo Fighters, even said that rock and roll is not close to dead with Billie Eilish around. For someone barely eighteen, Billie already has an impressive influence on the upcoming generation. In her new single “Everything I Wanted,” Billie tackles the tough subject of suicide, with lyrics inspired by a dream that she had.

 

The song’s title comes from the first verse, where Billie describes a dream in which she got “everything she wanted” by killing herself.

I had a dream
I got everything I wanted
Not what you think
And if I’m being honest

It might have been a nightmare
To anyone who might care

Thought I could fly
So I stepped off the golden

Billie relates a dream in which she chooses to step off of the Golden Gate Bridge, committing suicide. The topic is dark, but such content is not new to Billie. In her songs, she has also addressed drug abuse and mental illness (“Xanny”), murder (“Bellyache”), and has even alluded to suicide before (“Bury a Friend”). After the first few lines of “Everything I Wanted”, however, the song takes a turn from dark towards sorrowful, as we see a glimpse of what Billie felt when she dreamed of her suicide: lonely and uncared for.

Nobody cried
Nobody even noticed
I saw them standing right there
Kinda thought they might care

Perhaps, Billie’s dream-suicide was motivated by the feeling that no one really cared about her, a common motivation for real-life suicides. Over half of suicide attempts are connected to major depression, and often those who struggle with depression do not receive the treatment they need. This leaves many feeling alone and as if no one cares about them. The dangerous lie that you do not have value and that no one cares about you is endemic among teens and young adults, considering the suicide rate for those between 15 and 24.

Considering the bleak topic of “Everything I Wanted,” we must ask what effect the song has on its listeners. We might be tempted to think that a song about suicide could only negatively impact its listeners. However, Billie is an advocate for those who struggle with mental illness and wants to have a positive influence on her fans through her music. Billie walks a thin line between romanticizing mental illness and offering hope in a dark world, exposing things hidden in darkness to the light (Ephesians 5:13). The “light” in “Everything I Wanted” comes in the chorus. Billie offers her listeners the hope of redemption, even when they feel alone and unloved. She sings of someone who is always there for her, who gives her hope and a reason to live.

But when I wake up
I see you with me
And you say
As long as I’m here
No one can hurt you

The person Billie is singing about is her brother, Finneas, who is her close friend and musical collaborator. Billie shows that there really is a way out, even in the darkest of times. Similarly to how Billie feels that she needs her brother, we all need to be surrounded by Christian community. We need those who will remind us of our value in Christ and that we are loved.

Although we should support and love each other, we must all realize that at some point, every person in our life will let us down. Although Billie expresses that her brother is always there for her, we know that no one can be there for us all the time. As Christians, we know that the only Person who will always be there for us is Jesus Christ. We share in the promise God gave to Joshua when he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). We can be confident that Jesus will always be there for us, and will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).

Billie Eilish is not playing around with inconsequential themes in “Everything I Wanted.” When done carelessly, talking and singing about suicide or depression can be dangerous. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and it is teens and young adults who make up most of Billie’s fanbase.

So, is a dark, honest, artist like Billie Eilish helping teens who are struggling with suicide or depression, or hurting them? Her lyrics are dark, but they also contain a message of hope and love that might surprise those who feel like they have no hope. On the other hand, some people do not have even one person in their life who supports them, and for those people “Everything I Wanted” might be discouraging, reminding them of what they do not have. Billie’s song only allows a tiny peek into the truth of the Gospel. Ultimately, the help that everyone who is struggling with suicide or depression needs comes from Jesus Christ. While we all need others around us who love and support us, what we need even more is Jesus’ grace and salvation from our sins.

In “Everything I Wanted,” the dark is in constant conflict with the light. We know that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). Through the Gospel, the light overcomes the dark. The Christian worldview offers hope and purpose for those who feel they lack exactly that. Do you have someone in your life who is there for you, who reminds you of the Hope you have when everything seems hopeless? Even for those who truly love Jesus, it is possible to struggle with mental illness, including depression and thoughts of suicide. Loving Jesus will not necessarily “cure” anyone who is struggling with mental illness. It is important to know the causes of suicidal ideation and to be prepared to spot signs that someone might be suffering. For more resources on suicide and suicide prevention, or if you have dealt with suicidal feelings, visit the links in the resource section below.

Sign up here to receive weekly Reflect emails in your inbox!