What does How to Save a Life mean?

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The Fray: How to Save a Life Meaning

Song Released: 2006

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How to Save a Life Lyrics

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Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it's just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear...


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    Jun 22nd, 2015 6:30pm report

    I think it's about suicide, like most people here think. I thought for a while about killing myself, and I finally worked up enough courage to talk to my twin sister, and she helped talk to my parents, and they helped me get help. I'm now seeing a therapist, my life is awesome, and I'm so glad I had people there for me. I don't regret ever feeling that way, because you don't control how you feel, only how you handle those feelings.

    Sorry that was pretty long for an interpretation...


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    Oct 12th, 2014 10:11am report

    I listen to this song every single day and it's as if it were written for me. Though I've known of it for years a few months ago I came in from work and found my husband of 19 years not breathing. Myself and our 17 year old daughter did all we could til 911 arrived. We got him breathing again,but lost him 14 hours later. This song is powerful,beautiful and just amazing. For me it is most definately about ones struggle within themslelf and for the ones that love them deeply losing themselves to try and save them. I did this and I failed. Idk if ill ever be able to forgive myself or him even,but I do know this song somehow makes me feel not so alone. The what ifs are the hardest for me. God I miss him. R.I.P Bryan 4/9/14


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    Oct 4th, 2014 10:59am report

    As I just finished reading The Death Cure by James Dashner I listened to this song and in my opinion this song perfectly represents Newt and Thomas's relationship. Perfectly. (i don't want to spoil so I won't say anymore here but if you have read TDC you will know what I'm talking about)

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    May 6th, 2014 5:30pm report

    I had an epiphany that "How to save a life" was about a guy who "lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness". He missed all the signs that his friend needed help otherwise he would have "stayed up with you all night". But now this song is meant to be a guideline to know when someone needs help and what they will do because he has learned from his oblivious mistakes and wants to help the ones he can. This song is about "how to save a life"


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    Mar 24th, 2014 3:10pm report

    Its about a friend of a suicide victim, in my opinion. The singer wants to know 'where did I go wrong' or in other words, where did I mess up in our friendship. 'I lost a friend' is the friend commiting suicide. ' along in the bitterness' means it happened somewhere in the friends period of depression before they killed themselves. 'and I would have stayed up with you all night, had I known, how to save a life' is the singer saying they would have done many things, including talking to their friend out of suicide through the night, if they had known how to save them.


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    Jul 1st, 2013 7:11pm report

    It's about suicide. I know this, because I was cutting a short time and was thinking about suicide, and I wished that someone just stayed up with me all night. It wasn't a great help to give me to a psychiater. I just needed someone who was there for me and wasn't taking to me just sitting there with me would have been enough. But there was nobody. I still pretend that I feel better, but I am just not okay. Because nobody out there, not even a psychiater knows how to save a life. I cry every time I hear this song and watch the Video.


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    Jun 9th, 2013 6:50am report

    This song came out about the same time a very dear friend of mine died. He was way too young for his life to end. He had moved to a different area of the state. It is still unsure if the overdose was accidental or intentional. It still hurts so much... If I (we) had been there- would WE have been able to save a life? I still cry every time I hear this song... it certainly hits home.


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    Mar 15th, 2013 3:46am report

    It's about suicide , my friend lost her life to suicide , love this song! i think people have their own interpretations of the song and can relate to it in different ways :)


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    Feb 3rd, 2013 2:04pm report

    To me this song Is about someone who Is crying out trying to be heard because of their guilt of knowing about a problem but basically putting it aside and forgetting about it. It can be about anything you want it to be. In some ways it can be a metaphor but in other ways it can be exactly what it says it Is. It's about the devistation of knowing you could have done something, you could have helped but you didn't think mattered even it you did, and now you suffer in silence feeling completely defenceless against The pain.


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    Jan 24th, 2013 1:00pm report

    I think this song is about someone who you care deeply about who's gone down the wrong path (drugs, depression) and you offer help but they refuse and you dont know what to do for them anymore and feel like you're losing them


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    Jan 2nd, 2013 1:36pm report

    This isn't really an interpretation, I know the songs about the teen the lead singer met mentoring at a camp, and how he had no idea how to help him, but whenever I heard it it would immediately remind me of the ending of thirteen reasons why. For anyone who hasn't read the book, I'm talking about the part where the main character tries to reach out to her counseler for help. She was suicidal and wanted to kill herself, and she went to this trusted adult, seeking his help. All he could say was I'm sorry, but I don't know what to do and literally condemned her. The lyrics fit almost perfectly to how the book describes that scene and I'm reminded o it every time.


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    Nov 27th, 2012 11:51pm report


    IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ THIS WHOLE REVIEW, just read: "The threemost important lines of the song."

    The song is a story with an impact, but the three lines are most key to give their message.


    This song is about a drug addiction that leads to a loss of a friendship. In the song, when he says he lost a friend, this could mean to death or lost his friendship, and when he says "how to save a life," he's focusing on the life of the true friend he was. The best friend he once was, but he changed.

    The talk, they have in the beginning of the song, is about any struggles that the friend is having (probobly a drug addiction that the friend doesn't beleive to be a problem). He knows better than his friend, and he just wants to help. He sits him down for a talk. (its more than just a talk, but you say its just a talk, hoping he cooperates) "He (the friend) stares politely right at you," meaning he's doing what you say, and listening, as you would want him to do (its polite), but "you stare right on through." you stares through him. you know that your friend isn't actually listening, and respecting your presence.

    He goes left and you stay right. (two different directions). Your direction of trying to help, yet he refuses, and stays in his direction. (where he ignores any true risks of the drugs he's using). As you struggle to help, he's not trying at all. You fear things will only get worse, and while your doing your best to help, you still blame yourself.

    "You begin to wonder why you came." You recodnize this, and you know that he's never tried to help himself before, and he wont now. Your efforts for your friend are worthless.

    You only try to help, and you blame yourself when he continues on his path of abusing drugs, and ignoring his addiction. You try but you can't do it alone. You blame yourself because you feel that you must have done something wrong. You feel you could have fixed it earlier. "where did i go wrong?" Your best friend is lost, and when you couldn't do enough, you struggle to find an answer of why things happened the way they did. you wrongly blame yourself.

    "I would have stayed up, with you all night, had i known, How to save a life"

    You try, and eventually let go. You give up on him because you dont know what else to do. You would have stayed with him all night (much longer), but you dont know what else to do to save him. You dont know how to save his life. (your friendship with him and his personality, from when he was the friend he used to be)

    "let him know that you know best, because after all you do know best." When someone is addicted, they are too blind by the addiction to notice. You know best (a friend not abusing the drug) because you noticed the effects. you know the risks, and the potential losses. he doen't. You do know best. It is a fact.

    You try to convince him that his addiction is a problem. You try to explain what he's loosing. You want to get past all his lies and ignorance (his defense), "without granting innocence" ...without telling the abuser, that he hasn't done anything wrong. the fact is that he has done something wrong, and he currently is. "the list of what is wrong" is all of the things that he's struggling with. Its the things wrong with him. the ways he's changed. They other things he could lose. The things on this list are the things you've been trying to tell him for so long.

    "Pray to god it cures you. And i pray to god it cures you" You wish that he has a moment of aknowledgement. You pray he realizes the pain he's had all along. you pray that his old personality, that he once had comes back. For the sake of him and the people who loved him (pray to god it cures you, tells the addicted hope he gets cured for his own sake -- I pray to god it cures you, is hopeing he's cured for the sake of the ones who care for him)


    "He begins to raise his voice, you lower yours and grant him one last choice"

    Again, all your efforts are worthless. He just gets more mad again. He fights everything you've said and doesn't think truely about anything so you stop fighting.

    You grant him one last choice:
    1)Drive until you lose the road
    2)Break with the one that follows

    This road is the same thing as earlier in the song, where he's going left and your going right.

    You granting one last choice, is you confronting your friend. You say you can either...
    1)Continue his life with his drugs, ignoring the problems and risks, and harm he gives others


    2)Listen to us, and know where trying to help. Stop the addiction (or at least make an attempt) and return to the ones that love you.

    "He will do one of two things"

    1)"He will admit to everything" (break with the [road] he follows) And get help, recodnize his issue and listen to the people helping him. ((Best case scenario))


    2)"he'll say he's just not the same" He'll convince he's not the same person. This would mostly be presented as, I've grown up, or Im not a little boy anymore-- just some way not thinking the drugs were ever a problem.

    ...he says hes just not the same

    "You being to wonder why you came"
    Its a painful cycle. The friend he is now is hardly a friend, but the person he used to be was one of the best friends youve had. You struggle to save him with worthless efforts. You recodnize that anything you do to help is pointless without him wanting to help himself.


    "Where did I go wrong , I lost a friend"

    -you blame yourself for your friends actions. You want to know what you did wrong to lose the friend you loved, but you will never know because you didn't do anything wrong.

    Leads to two...
    Because you feel its your fault, and you desire your old friend back, you go through all the troubles to try to help him.

    "You begin to wonder why you came (to help the friend)"

    -You know that all your efforts are worthless. He isn't helping you, or himself. You know, the friend you had, is lost. You give up on him.

    "I would have stayed up with you (the friend) all night, had i known how to save a life"

    -If you had known any way you could have helped, you would have. You gave all you could to help but its not enough. You feel guilt but theres nothing more you could have done.

    -If you knew something would have healed him, you would have done anything to do it. You don't want anything more than for your old friend to survive, but your old friend is already gone.

    His death, leaves all who loved him with the guilt, and loss, of who he used to be. The person he became doesn't care at all. The drugs killed his friend, and replaced him with an angry, ignorant person who you dont aknowledge as your friend.

    The story is about the loss of a close friend. He isn't just lost. he is lost twice. They lose his personality, and try to get him back, but the fact is, the person he was is gone. The person he becomes, leads him to a premature death, and they lose him again. When he dies, it feels like you have lost the same person a second time.

    The morals of the story:
    1)Dont do drugs
    2)Do not give up on helping friends, with an addiction.
    3)Don't blame yourself, when you couldn't do anything more to save him


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    Nov 27th, 2012 11:59pm report

    Its hard to grasp the true meaning of this song. Its personal to his life. We can figure out the message, but its hard for us to truely understand the meaning of this song without sympathy.

    We recodnize parts of it, but its just not possible to understand completely. Its more than just a message, and a song. More than just a story.

    The song gives humans a feeling. This feeling is too much to put into words. It has the combined emotions, of regret, unclarity, confusion, frustration, but just these few words aren't capable of giving that emotion of true loss.

    Loosing somone close has more than just a pain and regret. The song "How to save a life," gives listeners the feeling, and struggle of loosing someone really close.


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    Nov 6th, 2012 11:16pm report

    It is my opinion that it has to do with someone regretting the fact that they ignored someone else with issues, whatever the issues may be. They look back and see it could have been all so different .

    My uncle has been on a rough road, which he chose himself, he lived with us (me and my parents) for 5 years and my mom practically stayed up with him all night. I like to think she saved his and other people's lives because she stopped him from driving drunk and going out with friends that had a bad influence on him. He drove while intoxicated starting shortly after he got his first license. He no longer lives with us because of his actions. I think he got off way too easy, though thankfully he did not hurt anyone. MADD and AA was just a game to him. Some thing he participated in to get a lighter sentence. All he got was a light slap on the wrist and 40 days in jail after 5 DWI's. He even still went to work!
    His favorite thing to say to get people to feel sorry for him was “It could have been all so different". I think that is the message this song is trying to give.


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    Nov 3rd, 2012 11:35pm report

    I heard from some its about the lead singer who was mentoring a boy who wanted to commit suicide due to drugs and he hung himself one night with some lyrics to this song i can find any evidence to this so if anyone does contact my at my email: rperales_14@yahoo.com.

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