Young goths are at a higher risk to develop depression and to self-harm themselves, a new study suggests.
A group from Oxford University originally surveyed nearly 3,700 teenagers, age 15, 154 of whom “very strongly” identified as goths. Three years later, they reassessed the teenagers and found that they were three times more likely to deal with depression and five times more likely to inflict self-harm, ABC.net reports, than those who did not identify with the subculture.
“We found that young people who identified as being a goth at 15 years of age were three times as likely to be depressed at age 18, relative to peers who didn’t identify with this subculture, and they were also five times more likely to self-harm by 18 years of age,” Dr. Lucy Bowes, the study’s lead author, said.
The team also asked the teenagers if they identified with any other subcultures, including “sporty,” “popular,” “skaters,” “loners,” and “bimbos.” They found that the group least likely to feel depressed were the ones who identified as “sporty.” Those who identified as “skaters” were the second largest group to exhibit signs of depression or self-harm.
“The extent to which young people self-identify with goth subculture may represent the extent to which at-risk young people feel isolated, ostracized or stigmatized by society,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Rebecca Pearson, of the University of Bristol.
While the researchers said they could not completely explain the link, they suggest the tendency for goths to distance themselves from society could play a part, BBC News reports. They also found that teenagers who are already susceptible to depression and self-harm may be attracted to the goth lifestyle.
“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,” Pearson said.
“We did look at whether it was simply individuals who were more prone to depression who were attracted to this community, and although that was the case to a certain extent, this didn’t fully explain our findings,” Bowes added.
The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, hope that their study will show “that peer groups may influence a teenagers’ vulnerability to depression and self-harm.”
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