Teens who identify themselves as Goths and who identify with Goth culture may be prone to depression and to harming themselves, according to a British study.
Goths are an alternative subculture among teens. Goths often wear all black clothing and a lot of black eye makeup and listen to dark, serious music. However, there is a lot of variation and diversity within this subculture.
Researchers the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol used data from a long-term study of 3,694 children born in the United Kingdom in 1991 and 1992. The children were followed up through age 18. Every year after age 7, the children and their parents provided information on the child's emotional state, experience with bullying and the mother's history of depression.
When the participants reached age 15, they asked about which social groups and subcultures among their peers they identified with, and how strongly they identified with that group. When they turned 18, the researchers asked them about depression and any attempts to harm themselves, such as cutting or taking an overdose of pills.
Of the 1,841 teens that did not identify themselves as Goths at age 15, about 6% met the criteria for depression at age 18. Among the 154 teens that identified themselves strongly as Goths, 18% were depressed at age 18. Thirty-seven percent of Goth teens reported that they had hurt themselves purposely.
The study team found that Goth teens were more likely to be girls and to have mothers who had a history of depression. They were also more likely to have been bullied during childhood and to have a history of emotional and behavioral difficulties, according to their mothers.
The study concluded: "Although our findings suggest that youths who identify with the Goth subculture might represent a vulnerable group, our observational findings cannot be used to claim that becoming a Goth causes an increased risk of self-harm and depression."
The study was published by The Lancet Psychiatry and can be read online here.