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Jens Meyer

Goth kids could be more at risk of depression and self-harm

But not necessarily because they are goths.

TEENAGERS WHO IDENTIFY with the goth subculture could be more at risk of of depression and self-harm, new research suggests.

The research, published today in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal shows that teenagers who identified very strongly with being a goth at age 15 were three times more likely to be clinically depressed and were five times more likely to self-harm at age 18 than young people who did not identify with the goth subculture.

However, it does not claim a link between the two things.

“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,” says lead author Dr Lucy Bowes from the University of Oxford in the UK.

Contemporary goth youth subculture has been linked with deliberate self harm, but until now whether this association is confounded by the characteristics of young people, their families, or their circumstances was unclear.

The study used data from the UK Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate whether identifying with the goth subculture at age 15 is linked with depression and self-harm in early adulthood.

This current analysis looks at the results from 3,694 teenagers who provided information on self-harm and depressive mood and the extent to which they identified as a goth at 15 years, and their self-reported depression and self-harm at age 18. Participants were also asked about identification with a variety of other youth subcultures (ie, “sporty”, “populars”, “skaters”, “chavs”, “loners”, “keeners”, and “bimbos”).

The researchers found that the more young people identified with the goth subculture, the higher their likelihood of self-harm and depression.

Although some other subcultures were also associated with adult depression and self-harm (ie, skaters and loners), the associated was strongest for goths. Young people who self-identified as “sporty” were least likely to have depression or self-harm at age 18.

As this is an observational study, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the findings cannot be used to claim that becoming a goth causes an increased risk of self-harm and depression, say the researchers.

Read: Police investigate possible hate crime after two Goth teenagers assaulted

Read: In pictures: Meet the men who dress up as My Little Pony

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