New British research has revealed teenagers who identify with the ‘Goth’ lifestyle are three times more likely to develop depression and five times more likely to self-harm than their less pessimistic peers. The Oxford University survey of nearly 4,000 UK youths found those identifying with the ‘Goth’ subculture were susceptible to mental illness…
Speaking to the ABC, lead author Dr. Lucy Bowes explained the long-term findings of the survey. “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,” she said.
But despite the negative connotations of the ‘Goth’ lifestyle, Dr. Bowes says the attraction to the subculture was balanced against the view it was inherently negative. “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,” said Dr. Bowes.
For the lead author, stigmatisation and social factors also play a significant part. ‘Goth’ teens are often identified by a particular visual style, accentuated white-and-black makeup, piercings and other stylistic choices that render them at odds with others in society. “We also think it would be important… to try to reduce stigmatisation because it’s still very possible that our findings could be explained by the extent to which goths and other subcultures are ostracised or stigmatised by society,” Dr. Bowes noted. “And certainly, trying to counteract the stigmatisation, this may help.”
Those participants who self-identified as “sporty” were the least likely to develop depression or to self-harm, according to the statistics. The findings were published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal.
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