Adolescents who identify with the Gothic subculture may be at increased risk of depression and self-harm, according to a study by the University of Oxford (UK).
The research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal, found that 15-year-olds who considered themselves Goth were three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression and five times more likely to self-harm at age 18 than adolescents who identified with other urban tribes. Even those who were not fully integrated into the Goth subculture were about twice as likely to develop depression.
Although other urban tribes, such as skateboarders, were also associated with depression and self-harm in adulthood, the highest rate was found in Goth adolescents. In contrast, young athletes were at the lowest risk.
The main author of the study, Dr. Lucy Bowes, pointed out that this is not a causal relationship, but that “some young goths may be more vulnerable”. Another of the study’s authors, Rebecca Pearson, from the University of Bristol (UK), said that “seen in another way, the number of young people who identify with the goth subculture may represent at-risk groups who feel isolated, excluded or stigmatized by society”.
The study analyzed data from the UK Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to select the more than 3,000 research participants. The young people had to fill in several questionnaires about depression, self-harm and about the different urban tribes they could identify with, such as jocks, skateboarders, rappers, nerds or posh kids, among others.
They do not follow the rules
One of the possible reasons why teenagers join the Goth subculture is because it is a community that does not follow the established norms. Pearson has explained that this urban tribe “welcomes marginalized people from all walks of life, even those with mental health problems.”
Thus, identification with the Goth subculture can be an indicator of depression and self-harm in adulthood, despite the fact that there are other factors that influence such as emotional and behavioral problems, psychiatric disorders, bullying and the mother’s mental health.
For his part, the professor from the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) stated that “physicians should show interest in the Gothic subculture in adolescents” and “monitor and assess the risk of self-harm in young people”.