Study: Goth Teens More Likely to Self-Harm

goth cultureA new study from UK researchers has found that teens who become engrossed in the Goth subculture are three times more likely to suffer from depression, and five times more likely to self-harm.

The Daily Mail is reporting on the study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol found some alarming correlations between the Goth subculture and mental health in teens.

Goths are easily spotted due to their penchant for mostly black clothing, heavy black makeup, multiple piercings and/or tattoos, and punk style hair. This group has a morbid fascination with dark imagery and death, as well as for heavy metal bands with violent lyrics.

Researchers studied almost 4,000 teens aged 15, and then again at age 18, and found that 18 percent of those who called themselves Goths at age 15 said they suffered from clinical depression by the time they reached their 18th birthday – which is three times the average. Thirty-seven percent admitted to self-harming, which is five times the average.

The academics believe one of the reasons for this phenomena could be the dark music typically listened to by Goths, which can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

However, they also noted that the Goth subculture tends to draw youth who are already feeling excluded or ostracized by their peers, a group that is already at risk for depression.

“Teenagers who are susceptible to depression or with a tendency to self-harm might be attracted to the goth subculture which is known to embrace marginalized individuals from all backgrounds, including those with mental health problems,” said Dr. Rebecca Pearson from the University of Bristol.

“Alternatively, the extent to which young people self-identify with the Goth subculture may represent the extent to which at-risk young people feel isolated, ostracized, or stigmatized by society. These young people may be attracted to like-minded goths who face similar stressors.”

Her fellow researcher, Dr. Lucy Bowes from the University of Oxford agrees. “Our study does not show that being a goth causes depression or self-harm, but rather that some young goths are more vulnerable to developing these conditions,” she said.

The authors are suggesting that more work be done to identify youth in the Goth culture who may be at risk for depression and self-harm, and provide them with the support they need.



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