[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Goths 'more likely to self-harm'
Self-harming is a strategy for coping with serious emotional problems
Teenage Goths are more likely to self-harm than those in other social groups, a study has found.

Glasgow researchers surveyed 1,258 teens at the ages of 11, 13, 15 and 17.

Up to 14% of teenagers self-harm, but half of the 25 who described themselves as Goths had done so, reported the British Medical Journal.

Most self-harmed before becoming a Goth, suggesting they chose the subculture because they felt their emotional distress would be understood.

Self-harm - such as cutting, burning or punching to deliberately cause pain - is used as a way of coping with emotional problems.

It can be linked to depression, attempted suicide, and various psychiatric disorders in later life.

The Glasgow study found that belonging to the Goth subculture - as 25 people did - was strongly associated with a lifetime risk of self harm (53%) and attempted suicide (47%).

Goths favour black clothing, black and white make-up and tend to follow a style of rock music derived from punk.

Those who belonged to the group had the strongest association of any youth subculture, even after factors such as social class, parental separation, smoking, alcohol use, or previous depression had been taken into account.

Of the 93 who said they felt some identification with the Goth subculture, 10% had self-harmed.

Parents 'should not worry'

Robert Young, the psychologist who led the study, said: "Although only fairly small numbers of young people identify as belonging to the Goth subculture, rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are very high among this group.

Mr Young said a teenager who self-harmed was obviously a concern, whatever social group they belonged to.

But he added: "I don't think parents should be worried if their children identify with Goths.

"Rather than posing a risk, it's also possible that by belonging to this subculture young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers.

"However, the study was based on small numbers and replication is needed to confirm our results."

Dr Michael van Beinum, a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at Lanarkshire Public Healthcare Trust who advised on the study, said: "Social support is important for all young people to help them cope with the difficulties they face, and therefore finding a peer group of like-minded Goths may, for some, be adaptive.

"Adults helping young people in difficulty need to be aware that those who clearly identify with Goth subculture may also be self-harming, and may benefit from learning further coping mechanisms to help them overcome inner distress."

Avis Johns, of the charity Young Minds, said: "Self-harm amongst young people is a serious concern.

"This report suggests that as a society we need to do much more to provide support mechanisms for vulnerable people.

"It is a wake-up call for us all. We must ensure that young people receive support for mental illness in the ways and places that are responsive to their needs."

Goth vicar's self-harming sermon
27 Mar 06 |  Cambridgeshire
Website support for self-harmers
15 Nov 05 |  Suffolk
Upwardly gothic
21 Mar 06 |  Magazine

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific